Stay Safe: Chapter Three


What follows is a chapter from "Stay Safe: Life After Loss," a book that I wrote following the death of my brother, Robert James Reeves. Rob, only 14-months younger than me and 32 years old at the time of his death, was a Navy SEAL on the prestigious SEAL Team 6. On August 6, 2011, while on a mission in Afghanistan, he and too many of his teammates and other servicemen, lost their lives when their helicopter was shot down by enemy fire. It was the single largest loss of American life in the Afghan war. And because of the high profile nature of this event–being on the cusp of the Bin Laden mission and the number of those lost–my dad and I were part of many, many memorials and events, and the recipients of much outreach, and the point of contact for all those wanting to do something in Rob’s memory. This book chronicles the first month after his death. I am releasing a chapter a day starting August 5th as we mark the fourth anniversary of life without him.



My dad and I were a team in this grieving fight. We are a lot a like. Mom and Rob were the creative, fun and personable parts of our small family. Dad and I were the serious, introverted balance to their outgoing personalities. Dad and I have the same strengths and the same weaknesses. And now we no longer had those partners that could counter our weaknesses. So we tended to struggle in the same areas, in dealing with people in a way that showed we care and are kind. We do care and are kind, and Dad has one of the largest and most generous hearts of anyone I have ever met; in fact, I am sure Rob got his tendencies for this from my dad (Rob’s delivery was just better because of his outgoing personality). But it is hard to get that read from Dad if you don’t really know him. He was business-like and straight-forward in the first months after Rob died, trying to stay strong and stoic.Dad and I have spent a lot of time together since my mom died. It was gradual at first, but we have grown closer over the years. That is not to say that we were not close to begin with, I was just always closer to my mom. Dad was working hard to support our family and take care of my mom’s healthcare. And mom was available to me for my daily phone calls and rants and check-ins. But as terrible as it is to say, a great burden was lifted from my dad when my mom died. Mom’s health decline was painful to us all, but for my dad, it was painful emotionally, physically, financially and psychologically. I can accept that it put him at ease to see her pass and I don’t resent him for feeling that way.Neither Dad nor I have that take-charge caretaker personality.  That is a mother’s role, and I have never had a mother-like approach to life. But in the weeks after my brother’s death, someone had to be that person and I took on that role, though stumbling, bumbling and uncomfortable. I often screwed it up, missed details, and came across as a bitch to many, I am sure.Tears cloud the eyes of logic. Someone said that once, I don’t know who. But it stuck with me in my approach to dealing with life.Read other chapters of this book.© 2015 Emily Reeves Dean and All Rights Reserved.