When we got to Afghanistan in late 2007 (Christmas Eve actually) we got the bad news that the guys we were replacing had lost a guy.  We’d actually heard before, but not all the details and we were so busy training up that not all the info trickled down.  Turned out I’d met the guy before.

To help remember SGT Kitowski someone had a bunch of KIA bracelets created.  Somehow I got one and I wore it everyday for over 6 years.  I used it multiple times in multiple ways.  It gave me motivation countless times to do things I didn’t want to, to press on.  Caused me to ask “What would Kit think or do or say in this situation?”  When I wanted to complain, looking down at the bracelet reminded me that even though I was going through something sucky at least I was still alive.  When I was scared to do something new, to experience something, I’d remind myself that I owed it to him to actually live.  Not just breathe and consume resources but live, learn, grow.

I lost my job in mid-June.  A couple weeks later I had a job offer, then I got a firm offer letter and relaxed a little.  I was still waiting for the word that my background check/drug test passed (not that I was worried but I’m a firm believer in Murphy’s Law) but one day when I couldn’t sleep I took my wristwatch and bracelet off.  Normally I can’t survive like that and have to put them right back on.  I normally feel naked without them on and to be honest get a tiny bit anxious without them.  For some reason this time I didn’t.  I went almost a week without wearing either and it was almost liberating.  My watch is huge and weighs a ton, but in all seriousness I felt lighter, emotionally not physically.

I started back to work Monday morning.  When I was getting ready I strapped my watch back on my wrist and bent the metal of the bracelet closed around my wrist again.  The weight was there, but it was welcomed.  It didn’t feel oppressive.  I’m not carrying Kit around with me out of guilt anymore.  I’m sure I’ll use it from time to time to guilt me into things.  But they’re things that I know I need to do.  The break was nice and needed.  But it’s over now and time to move on.


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