Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sgt. Charles Kitowski III

It’s been a full year since you were taken from us by a road side bomb in Afghanistan. It seems like yesterday that we heard the news. Monica called up Zelda. Zelda cheerfully answered, “Hey, Monica!” Followed, by a cautious, “No, I’m not driving.” Then, it was the most awful cry from Zelda I ever heard: “NO! NO! NO! NOOOOO!”

We were a tight group. So, it only took me a brief second before I realized what had happened. I mouthed the words to Zelda, “Was Charles killed?” Zelda nodded while crying. Just then, my phone rang. It was Kevin.

Holding back tears, my voice stumbled as I answered, “Hello?”
Kevin instantly knew that I knew.

“I guess you heard?”

“Yeah, does anyone know what happened?”

“They’re saying it was a road side bomb.”

“Oh shit. I should call people and let them know. Keep me informed and I’ll keep you informed of anything new that comes up.”

I scrolled down my entire phone list calling as many people as I could. Most of them didn’t know yet. Everyone I called started breaking down.

“Please call everyone on your phone list so that no one finds out about it on the news.” Those were the last words I said to everyone I called.

Zelda and I were at my parents’ house with my sisters and brother-in-law. They heard everything and kept our kids occupied in the kitchen as Zelda and I were trying to inform as many of our friends as possible. After we completed calling everyone, we stopped. Zelda and I looked at each other, walked towards each other, and squeezed each other as we broke down.

We didn’t sleep that night.

You were taken from us much too early. You were supposed stand with me and the other groomsmen at Kevin’s wedding. We were supposed to go to New Orleans for his bachelor party. We were supposed to all grow old.

The old gang celebrated your 32nd birthday 2 days ago. You were supposed to be there with us. We all cried as we gathered in a circle and sang “Happy Birthday” to you before the night ended.

I told you before, we will never forget you.