Saturday, January 05, 2008

inspirations from a soldier's "in the event of my death" post

Maj Andrew Olmsted (a prolific blogger who blogged as Andrew in Iraq for the Rocky Mountain News) was killed in Iraq on Jan 3, 2008 when his team was ambushed (and became, possibly, the first American casualties of the year).

"I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here."

At his request, on the event of his death, blogger hilzoy has published a post authored by Maj Olmstead to the Obsidian Wings blog.

What I don't want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I'm dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren't going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.)

Honoring Maj Olmstead's request, I won't speak to the politics of his passing. I can, however, speak to the emotions of the posting. It's a heartbreaking read. I can only imagine how tough it was to write (he'd last revised the post in July 2007), yet I wonder

I don't even know how to start a similar "on the event of my death" letter, but I think I should try. At the very least, it'll show me where and on whom I need focus my energies.

Oh, and let me know when it's time to break out the onions.

POST-PUBLISH UPDATE: On a second reading of this (and an anonymous tip), I think I need to clarify why I feel the need to write my own "on the event of my death" letter. Maj Olmstead closed his letter admitting he "wasn't the greatest husband." God help me if I get to the end my letter saying I wish I'd been a better husband, a better father, a better son. If I do get close to writing something like that down, it's a sure sign my current priorities are way out of whack, and I'd better change them in a hurry. There's no excuse not to. When else will I get the chance?

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