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  • Our words make us immortal

       January 15, 2010

    A cousin of mine (I haven't met her, but I've talked to her sister and father a very little bit online over the years) was in Haiti visiting a friend when the earthquake hit. My cousin was injured, but okay, but her friend was killed. The friend, Molly, was in Haiti volunteering with Friends of the Orphans and she had been writing about her experiences there.

    Her last post was on December 30th and the last line is simply "RACHEL COMES TODAY!!!!" (Rachel is my relative). It's amazing how foreboding that simple sentence is now. Reading her blog is heartbreaking, but it's also heartwarming in a weird way because her thoughts and experiences live on through her writings.

    My father died almost seven years ago and it still makes me happy when I come across something he wrote online. In a way, his words make him immortal. My dad wrote about his experiences in the Korean War and a lot of it is still online:

    I am an infantry vet of Korea. ... This summer I went to the movie `Saving Private Ryan.' It was really hard to handle and caused many memories to resurface, especially the scene where the medic dies. My daughters asked me why the scene affected me so much. I told them this: `This scene took place 46 years ago - only he was a machine gunner in my company. He was hit in the chest in a mortar barrage 6 feet from me. I got to him first. Can you imagine the shock a 19-year-old gets when I look at O'Donnell's face and see his eyes are rolled around, so only the whites are visible? Do you know the gut-wrenching emotion of hearing him cry for his mother? Do you know the absolute horror of watching his blood bubble out with each dying breath?... Do you know the feeling of utter helplessness when he dies? I'm sorry O'Donnell, I'm sorry we didn't get you out. I know you didn't die in vain, I'm so sorry.

    That's not exactly a heartwarming story, but for me it's almost sacred. The fact that my father's words are still out there is so important to me and is still a comfort. I hope that in the time to come that Molly's family will feel that way about her blog.

    I wonder how long our content will live on? In a hundred years, will my relatives still be able to read all I've written? If so, what will they know about me (other than that I love lists and hate Brett Favre)? I suppose people might eventually craft "memorial" sites for themselves, but that feels too designed. You are who you are, not who you say you are.

    Posted by at January 15, 2010 01:54 PM

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    #  January 15th, 2010 4:37 PM      BVBigBro
    "...Wildflower seed in the sand and wind, may the four winds blow you home again..."  
    #  January 15th, 2010 10:26 PM      cherlynda
    So strange I was driving today for work and thought about Dad almost the whole way...seems we are all doing that.  



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