Today’s post will require me to open a closet. In that closet, there’s dust, some cobwebs, Afghanistan dirt, and a whole lot of love. But more than that, there’s this deep sadness that I’ve tucked away. As a Soldier, there are a lot of things I cannot say. A lot of these things, I wouldn’t say anyway. Because some things are meant to keep between my brothers and sisters in arms.
I was not close to SSG Williams. Not in the civilian sense. I didn’t know his favorite color. I didn’t know his favorite food. But, I knew him as a leader of Soldiers. I knew he loved PT (working out). And I knew he loved his daughter, Madison. SSG Williams is like the neighbor you cross the street to greet. He’s the teacher that made sure none of his students failed. He’s the one smiling and offering you what he has. Except, he was more than that.
On this day, a year ago, I remember the whisperings of a casualty. And I distinctly remember the way my stomach plummeted when SSG Williams’ name began to mix into those whispers. Not even a few minutes later, it was confirmed. The man I had seen nearly every morning for six months was gone. The man I’d said hello to just the day before. The man who’d sat with me while I updated his information so he could make SSG, which he did, the very month he’d died.
When I cried at SSG Williams’ ceremony, it wasn’t because we were at war. It wasn’t because of what his death symbolized. It was because the world lost a hero. And the worst of it was, no one would know him or understand what he’d done for them.
I’m not a crier but I shed more tears for that man than I’d ever shed before. At night, before bed, I’d wonder if he suffered. And right before we came back, I remembered thinking to myself…we left him behind.
It took me some time to understand that, while he was gone, it didn’t mean he couldn’t live on through all of us. Because of SSG Williams, a man who greeted me every morning with a smile, I am my best self. And I have a courage I never knew I could own. So, in honor of him, I will be revealing Chasing the Tide‘s dedication.
He gave us a little bit of heaven on earth and touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with. So, if you’re reading this, today is yours. What will you do with it?
Now playing, Whisper by A Fine Frenzy.
Sending all my love to Ms. Debbie,