What I need to figure out though is my life, because my life right now doesn’t make much sense to me and I need to start living a satisfying life not continue to live a miserable one.
I fell out of the run early on. Not much of a distance to fall out from when you’re already in the rear. Years ago I was a great runner, but after a series of injuries and bad knees I began to run less and less. Eventually, it boiled down to running for the PFT only. But make no mistake about it, it wasn’t an easy pace, I couldn’t feel my legs because of the cold and I couldn’t breathe. Also, I didn’t see the point of killing myself to keep up since my days of having something to prove are over. I wasn’t that far back from the formation and I could see I wasn’t the only one falling back. I kept my pace and began passing people going up the hill. They had hung in there, but were now having a hard time catching their breaths. As I was making my way up to one fellow Marine, he fell over. Not the type of falling over in order to lie down and say “f’ck it I’m taking a rest” but the type of involuntary falling over because you’re no longer in control of yourself. I recognized him immediately, it was Ryan Hansen.
I looked down at him and he appeared to be having some sort of seizure. I yelled out for the corpsman, looking ahead at the stragglers continuing to run up the hill with their best efforts knowing the corpsman wasn’t there, and then looked back hoping to find the safety vehicle. I kneeled down by his left side. His face seemed paralyzed. His eyes were wide open staring at me, his mouth open grasping for air. His skin color was turning gray. Another Marine appeared from out of nowhere on his right side and lifted up his head and turned it to the right, as was being directed by yet another Marine who clearly had a better idea of what to do in these type of situations…but Ryan’s eyes remained on me. For a very brief moment I gently rubbed his arm but stopped and felt foolish, as if that was helping him. I kept wondering “where’s the corpsman…why isn’t here yet?” I’ve had to yell for a corpsman very few times, but every time I have…one was always there almost immediately.
I felt relief when I finally saw one of the vehicle pull up but as the driver stepped out, he said he didn’t have the corpsman with him; the corpsman was in the front vehicle. Why the f’ck would the corpsman be in the front vehicle?!? More Marines appeared on the scene crowding around Ryan. I felt utterly useless. I didn’t know what to do; I wanted the corpsman to be here. The GySgt assigned for keeping up the rear showed up and asked everyone to keep moving along. He and the Marines from the safety vehicle had it under control. I didn’t want to leave but I did…a part of me thought I could catch up and somehow finally find the corpsman.
I ran back thinking about how screwed up this run was. I passed more people who had fallen out and could see how strung up the formation had actually become. What was the point to this?!? Who is trying to prove what? My thoughts turned to how much I’ve hated this week. How miserable I am and how I don’t get why I stay. Ryan was behind me lying on the side of a trail suffering from what might have been a heart attack for all I knew. Just a few nights prior, we walked out together to our cars and he confided in me how he had way more work than he could handle. Everything thrown his way was a #1 priority and there was no way he was going to get it all done. My parting words to him were to focus on his real #1 priority – his family. He thanked me and said he would remember that.
He didn’t make it. He died that morning. The expression on his face and his eyes glaring at me are always going to stay with me. What more could have I done to help him? Should we have done CPR on him right away? Why did I keep waiting on the corpsman? He had a look of shock on his face. Why didn’t I keep gently rubbing his arm and talking to him while everyone else was trying to figure out what to do? Why did I leave? I hate myself for leaving.
I’m extremely angry at everyone who planned this run and at the Deputy Commander for setting the pace he did. Mistakes were made and exactly what those were will come out in the investigation. I’ll get over the anger and I know the people involved are going to deal with their own level guilt.
In truth, I know it wasn’t the mistakes that killed him…I believe when it’s your time to go and the Lord is calling you; it’s your time to go. But I don’t know why it was Ryan’s turn to go. He was a nice, good, decent guy. He wasn’t one to stress work, which made our conversation a few nights earlier, really stick with me. Plenty of people at MARFOREUR/AF are dealing with multiple top priorities and working long hours to figure out how to complete them all, but that hadn’t been his normal. He leaves behind two little girls. I’m sure he was a wonderful father. Thinking of his little girls growing up without him is heartbreaking. I must have faith God knows best, even if it makes absolutely no sense to me.
What I need to figure out though is my life, because my life right now doesn’t make much sense to me and I need to start living a satisfying life not continue to live a miserable one. It is not God’s Will that I be this unhappy. I’m not bringing him much Glory this way, so no matter how hard it is to make real change happen – I must figure out how to make it be. My life could end just as suddenly as Ryan’s and it wouldn’t be much of a tragedy…I’m a workaholic with loose ties to family and friends. I’m not tied, connected or attached to anything or anyone. I’m choosing it to be like this so I can choose to have it be different.