Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, son of Jeff and Lori Wilfarht of Rosemount, MN, was killed on February 27th, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan.
I've had some people ask me, "Why haven't you written about Andrew?" In fact, his dad sent me a message that simply said,"I'm waiting.....". But it's hard because I didn't really know Andrew. My husband knew Andrew like many cousins know each other--in the background of childhood and sporadic family gatherings. In fact, I wrote briefly after his death and I did not publish it. Some might view a blog as entertainment and this horror is not entertainment.
In the meantime, I attended the most moving celebration of Andrew's life. People from all aspects of Andrew's life showed up to share their love and memories and fill in the gaps for those of us less in-the-know of Andrew's quirks and gifts and genuine sweetness.
There was a military funeral. Attendance to one of these should be required for every American. It will make you think differently about life in our fair country. Fort Snelling is not an easy place to be when 154 civilians and retired military people line up with flags in honor of a loss too big to understand. Brisk air caused the flags to whip and snap, the solemn trumpets mourned along with family and friends in front of a wooden box of Andrew's remains. With precision, a flag was folded and bestowed upon the grieving family and it could have seemed like a scene in a movie --but there I was grasping my nine year old daughter's hand trying to reassure her. Of what, I don't know. My head still spins thinking about it, and I have no name for the experience.
Nothing I have to say will change the facts; Andrew was killed while out on patrol. A diamond trap was set and purposely detonated. Only one of the three IED's detonated while the other two failed. The successful detonation occurred directly below Andrew's feet.
That's a hard story to take, especially coming from one of his platoon mates who joined us at the funeral and afterwards at the family home. He shared with us what their typical patrol was like. While speaking, he was shaking and tearing. As "old-timers" (he was 41 and Andrew was 31), neither had spouses or children and felt this was a way to contribute to the greater good of the world while keeping more families in tact. This brave man was sent to be with Andrew's family and we needed him as much as he needed us. I kept thinking the whole time, "What are we doing to these people? This young man will never be the same." He wanted to talk as much as we wanted him to so he did. Could he feel compassion and anguish and sorrow and privilege in our hugs? That's what I left hoping.
And so there you have it. I guess what I was thinking is that Andrew was not mine to write about. I don't take lightly the pain his parents and siblings are experiencing. Their whole way of being is completely altered. My own thoughts really mean nothing. I don't take lightly his death, which happened in a war I don't believe we should be in while still I laude and respect our soldiers' service to our country. I don't take lightly my own complacency toward these wars that have been a part of our country's landscape for the past ten years. Nor do I take lightly the fact that I didn't really know Andrew. Why was that? The answer might seem simple at first. It's family, people go their own ways, life is busy, yadda-yadda. But is it really that simple?
So if you want to ask me why I haven't written about Andrew, you have to understand that to do so forces me to figure out where I fit into all of it. That's the part I am working on. I'll keep you posted.