Saturday, July 30, 2011

"I'm breathing...I have nothing to complain about"

I have an friend.
When asked "how you're doing", his response is always "I'm breathing, I have nothing to complain about".
It's his simple way of celebrating that he's here to see another sunrise, make someone smile, and enjoy the beauty that he seems to find in the day to day grind.
It's his positive attitude and his ability to see good in everything he experiences that inspires me to "make the most " out of every day that I'm alive.
I've known this guy for over 6 years. We met when he was a Corporal in Fallujah, Iraq. In the last few days of the battle, when we were just getting ready to pull out, he had the misfortune to locate an IED....the hard way.
He lost both legs and the lower part of his left arm.
I saw him again a year after his injuries, when he was just getting started in physical therapy and learning how to use his artificial limps. We've kept in touch via the net and an occasional phone call for several years. Every time when I asked him how he was doing, he would answer, "Well I'm breathing...got nothing to complain about". Now that I live in Wash DC, close to his home, we've been in contact more often and have been trying to arrange a meeting.
He called me a few weeks ago and we set up a time and place to meet. I was prepared to drive to his place when he said he wanted to meet in town so that he could see my new place. We ended the conversation when I mentioned to him that I was getting ready to go to go on my morning run. He asked me what route I took and how many kilometers I ran a day. In the back of my mind I cringed that I brought up the topic. We said our goodbyes and ended our conversation.
Last night we met for dinner and drinks. Met him at a place a few blocks  from where I live. When I walked into the restaurant he stood up reached out and shook my hand and he hugged each other as only two comrades in arms could do. I was stunned that someone with no legs and a missing arm, looked and functioned so well.
The evening went on and on, reliving stories from our time together in Iraq.  We both drank more than we should have, and ended up walking back to my place. I showed him the guest room and we both crashed.
I woke up at 7:30 and started my routine, getting ready to go on my run. I went into the kitchen to start the coffee so it would be ready when I returned. I was standing there in my jockey shorts when he came around the corner dressed in running shorts and attached to his steel/titanium legs were a pair of running shoes.  I was speechless. I didn't know what to say. He just smiled and said, come on lets get going.
We finished a 10k run, that brought us around the tidal basin, along  the reflecting pool and around the Washington monument. As we sat down to some fruit and pastry and our cups of coffee...I asked him how he slept, his response was " I woke up, got nothing to complain about".

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wow!!! Back in the States Good to be home. Nice to come out into the sunshine

All settled in my new place in Washington DC and having a great time adjusting to being back in the states. For those of you that have followed my travels over the last few years, you already know that after I left Iraq ( for the third time) I was stationed in Singapore and spent allot of time in Indonesia and SEA. Spent a few months back in the Middle East and now I'm home....been along time. Glad to be home, glad to be closer to my family and friends, glad to be able to walk a block to the Starbucks.
What many of you may not know is that I am a strong supporter of the repeal of DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) and now that it has officially ended and the services are "adjusting" to the changes... the lives of thousands of service men and woman will change as well. No longer will they have to "hide" or worry about who might find out. No longer do they have to worry about having their careers ended because of bigotry and prejudice. All I know, is that this Marine will breathe a little easier.
No... I'm not going to be prancing into the office on Monday morning announcing to the world that I'm Bisexual. Frankly, it's no body's business who I have sex with and how. I suspect that is the way it's going to be for most of us. Most people will not even know that the guy or gal working next to them is gay or lesbian. The only difference you might notice is a more relaxed coworker, one that feels a bit freer and less threatened., one that can see his future at bit clearer and feel like he's an equal partner in serving his nation.
I'm sure that there are some of you that just can't figure out people like me. Believe me, sometimes I confuse myself. But what I do know is that I'm as much as a human being as you are and for some reason, God made me the way I am for his reasons...maybe someday we can all accept His will, and stop the hate.
All I know is that I feel allot more secure in being able to finish my 30 years serving my country and being a proud member of the United States Marine Corps.
Semper Fi