Stay Safe: Chapter Twenty-Two


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.


Bad things happen in threes. That’s what people say. I shouldn’t have then been surprised to get kicked when I was already down. My already broken heart broke into a few more pieces on this unlucky thirteenth day of grief. R. ended our relationship this day.In a true show of character, he left when things were the most difficult.I wished that if he wasn't that in to me he wouldn't have shown up for the memorial service and met virtually everyone in my life. Now I was shamed and heartbroken whereas I could've just been heartbroken. I felt like a stupid girl that fell for the wrong guy.After I invited him on a vacation, which seemed perfectly reasonable and maybe even exciting at the time, he totally pulled back on me. This day, this unlucky thirteenth day, he sent me a text (a text!) that said: "Busy on all fronts. Hope you are well. Thanks for the space, too. Reality of my present and future is setting in. Did a lot of reflecting in the car on the ride home. Such an intense weekend. I'm glad I could give you support, but want to be honest that I'm in need of some time alone. If I don't take the time, I think I won't grow from all the change. Hoping some of this is making sense. I know its horrible timing with all you are working through."I had to leave the office because I was a mess. I really had never connected to someone like I thought I had connected with him and I couldn’t believe this all happened at this time. "Horrible timing" to say the LEAST. He has no idea how shitty the timing was, but then I guess he didn't really know how close our family was, either. Was there something that was unattractive about me after a family death? I was married when my mom died, a month later my now ex-husband callously filed for divorce. Though I didn’t want death and feeling sorry for me to be the reason that anyone stayed with me, shit, it really fucking hurt. And it made me question myself, yet again. What did I do wrong? What was wrong with me? Was I just destined to be alone forever? It must be me. I couldn’t change those around me to make them love me. The only person I could change was me.And, of course, all my friends were encouraging: "Maybe after things calm down and he has had some time, he will be back.” But I am not sure that I could forgive him for doing this now and in that way.I was fucking mad at the world. Not even cheese dip or wine could make me feel better.

© 2015 Emily Reeves Dean and All Rights Reserved.