As this anniversary approaches each year I find myself reflecting back on the events that took place back in Afghanistan and I think about the path my life has gone on since that day. I’ve been thinking about what I want to say today but I can’t come up with anything profound that makes sense so I’m just going to write my thoughts as they come, so hang on.
If you’ve been reading my blog and keeping up on the events of my life you know that losing my vision wasn’t a big deal to me. It never was and I doubt it ever will be. I never slipped into that self pity that so many other wounded veterans go through.
When I look at my life now it’s easy to say it was all worth it. I would give my sight a hundred times over for the life I have now. I’m not saying I LOVE being blind, vision would be fun. It would be pretty great to wake up tomorrow and be able to see again. I wouldn’t tell anyone…I’d keep it secret and see how people act around me when they think I can’t see.
Anyway, yeah sight is a luxury but not at all necessary for a person to be happy. I love my life and I appreciate every aspect of it along with every opportunity I have. It’s unfortunate that I had to nearly die before I recognized how many blessings I truly have.
Think about that next time you’re stuck in traffic or want to complain about your job. Think about how fortunate you are to have the life you do. Don’t wait until you lose something you cherish or someone you love before you take stock of your life and appreciate what you’ve got. Your stuck in traffic? Poor you, in your own car, on a paved street, in one of the safest places on earth. It’s really not that bad is it? If you’re one of those chronically negative people who can’t help but complain about everything I invite you to take a trip to Iraq or Afghanistan. stay for a few months. If you survive, you’ll probably feel different.
Today isn’t just the day I went blind. It’s the day four lives were lost. There is so much I could say about Brad, Josh, Brian, and John that I don’t even know where to start.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about them. They are the reason I am who I am. We had only been there a month so I didn’t know most of the soldiers we were working with very well. There were a handful we were getting close with but for the most part Brad and I were still proving our worth.
Brian Bowman, the Army medic, is the only reason I’m alive and writing this right now. He and Brad were the ones that pulled me out of the river I landed in after the first explosion. I remember talking with Brian as he patched up the worst of my injuries. I din’t know how bad it was but if it hadn’t been for him I would have died. I firmly believe that.
Josh triggered the first IED and was killed immediately. Josh and I weren’t very close. All I really remember of him were tattoos on his arms but now I feel like I know him so well.
If you’re new around here, I’m now married to the woman that Josh once called his wife. I definitely don’t have the time to give that story justice but just believe me when I say God does exist and His hand truly is in all things.
John was 19 years old. He still looked like a baby compared to some of the other crusty old guys we worked with. Brad and I had been getting pretty close with him since John was one of the lowest ranking guys and was stuck up in a tower on guard duty pretty regularly. Brad and I would just sit up there during the day because we enjoyed watching the locals go about their business.
When you sit around waiting for something to happen for hours on end you tend to get to know the people around you pretty well. John was the sort of person I would have loved to know back in the States.
Now we come to Brad. My teammate and fellow TACP. I had known him for years and had been stuck with him just about every minute of every day for a full month. He drove me crazy singing obnoxious songs and always trying to improve himself. I didn’t get it at all at the time. I liked to do whatever took the least amount of effort and kept me off the radar of anyone with any authority.
Brad always talked about his daughter, who had been born only a few weeks before we deployed. He always talked about his plans to finish school, he always wanted to work out, he wanted to be better in every aspect of his life and be someone she would grow up to be proud of.
If you knew Brad you know that he was the sort of person that everyone who knew him was proud of. You wonder why I run so much when I hate it? Brad is the reason. He is why I do what I do.
All four of these men are the reason I am who I am today. I was incapable of self pity because I got to serve with heroes and they gave their lives for me. When you consider everything that happened, the men who gave their lives, being blind really isn’t a big deal. I thank God every day for the life I have. I am a better person now than I ever was before and it’s because of Brad, John, Josh, and Brian.
My heart goes out to their families today. While my family and many of you are celebrating my alive day the families of these four men are mourning the loss of their son, father, husband, and brother. Pray for them and honor the memory of the heroes that gave their lives.
I am so honored that I had the opportunity to serve my country with those men. I’m so blessed to have the life that I do and I owe it to them.
I look forward to the distant day in heaven when I can shake their hands again and tell them how thankful I am for what they did for me. Until that day though I can just thank their families for helping them develop into the men they were. They saved my life, and I will be eternally grateful. My thoughts and prayers are with you all today.
Thank you all for reading this blog and supporting my family and I over these last four years. It’s been a crazy adventure with so many twists and turns but I am so happy with how my life is going. I have an amazing family, beautiful wife and kids, and some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for.
Today is also an anniversary of when I met one of the best friends I’ve got now. Three years ago today Becky Cook, from Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, was standing on my doorstep in New Mexico holding the leash of this big lug.
Xxon and I have hardly been apart since. He is just another one of the amazing blessings in my life. A great big furry one that gets to go everywhere I do, it’s awesome!
I can’t wait to find out what is in store for us this year. The world is full of opportunity and experiences and I can’t wait to begin!
Thank you all for reading and sharing these blogs and stories. Have a great day and God bless!