For 7 long years I struggled with the notion that I got my best friend killed. Mark and I were inseparable. He became a brother to my wife at the time, and we had plans to move to Texas after we got out of the military. We used to spend every day and night doing stupid shit together, and the weekends doing even stupider shit. We were 6 months from getting out of the Marine Corps and I suggested we sign up to be combat replacements for 3/4’s last 4 months of their 2011 tour to afghan. Long story short I was denied for my multiple NJPs (one was supposed to be Mark'
s but I took the blame). On June 28, 2011 Mark was shot and killed on patrol. I was devastated. I still am. But in June of 2018 I finally got the opportunity to fly out to Arlington National cemetery and see him again. In the 7 years since I lost Mark I blamed myself constantly, and even came to the brink of suicide a couple times while drunk. The trip to see my best friend again changed me in ways that words can only start to describe. Laying down on top of his plot I felt a peace that I had been searching for. I found my mind telling me it’s ok to be sad, but you need to live for him now, live your life for both of you. The guilt and desperate pain washed away. A shit eating grin came across my face as I thought about the crazy times we had. Since that trip I haven’t felt the terrible terrible emptiness and desperation that I had been feeling all those years. I’ve realized it’s ok to miss the dead, but there’s no use in blaming ourselves and destroying two lives. I was even finally able to face his parents for the first time as well. For years i thought that they would hate me for suggesting we go. However, when i saw them they had nothing but open arms and love for me. God that was a humbling experience. One of my favorite bands, August Burns Red, has a song in which they say “you would die for anyone else, but you won’t live for yourself”. I’m living for myself and Mark now, and I feel so much better.