You might remember that I mentioned in my summer break blog that our friend was severely injured in Afghanistan. Since then, we have prayed so hard...so many kinds of prayer, like praying while we worked out, willing our healthy bodies to infuse their vitality into his. Like when I got stung on the head by yellowjackets (twice in two days) and offered up the searing pain to decrease the emotional strain on his wife and daughter. Prayers that are supposed to be secret but which I am sharing now because grief causes me to no longer care what is appropriate. Of course, you realize that means our friend passed away. His name is Greg Trent. I can say it now because everyone knows.
My grief is not the story, although this is my blog and I suppose it could be. But I'm Creek. We have big families, tight communities. We learn to grieve from an early age, when we are taken to funerals as babies and grow into our roles in communal grieving. And I've lost friends, also, not just relatives. To suicide, which is the most terrible. To war, which is also terrible in its own special way. Grieving is familiar, but the loss of each dear, special person merits pain as individual and specific as the love they gathered in life.
Joseph met Trent, or T, as he was called, and his wife Beth when he first moved to Italy. They were in the 173rd Airborne together. I came along a little later, and by that time they were already fast friends. Joseph constantly told me I would love the Trents, and he was right, immediately. For here was a couple so in love that they glowed with it. They were smart, funny, and direct in a way that I had always wanted to encounter. I assumed it was because they were from the East, but now I know it was just their way. They could speak the truth, be it serious or funny, with such grace and courage that it made me feel free to be as brave -- something that is difficult for a new Army wife, for we often feel bound to say only the positive, the practical, the safe.
They were best friends, and they, like all Army couples, knew the fragility of life. So they LIVED. They had a beautiful little baby, who has grown into a beautiful little girl. They went on vacations. They celebrated good things. At Christmas, they made their house the gaudiest, brightest, merriest house in the neighborhood. Beth's updates about it on Facebook were a hilarious part of my holiday season. They had hard things happen just like anyone, but joy is deep and abiding, and they had that.
No matter what I write, it is not quite what I meant to say. The time for struggling with it is not now, and not here. I won't write about our friends again in this blog, but when I write of other things, it won't mean I have forgotten. We never do.