Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Killed In Action in Afghanistan - Dear Baby Brother

In the introduction to my blog, I told you it was good days, bad days, happy days, sad days and that you might laugh, cry, or possibly go insane from being a follower. Thus far, I have given you the giggles. Today, I give you the tears because they are also a part of life.

I was so saddened to get on Facebook this weekend and see that a friend, Helen, had a death in the family. But not just any death. Her little brother, Adam, was killed in action in Afghanistan. She wrote a beautiful letter to him, pouring out her heart. With her permission, I share it. Please note that Helen and her husband also serve our country. The following was written by Helen Teresa Dobereiner Durbin:

I'm sorry beforehand if this comes out a little jumbled and rambleish, but I need to get something out. First and foremost, I love you so much. I can't believe what's going on. I wish that I could sleep, but sleep isn't coming easy.

Secondly, I wish you were here...especially today, your birthday. Happy birthday. I took you out last year for your first legal beer. I was so baffled that no one was going to do anything with you on your birthday, so I got Alayna dressed, got in my car, and drove 3 hours to take you to BWWs for a quick meal, beer, and laughing, then straight back home. I can't believe it's already been a year.

I wish I still had someone in my corner...my left handed corner. Now that you are gone, I have no left hand brother... and that is awful. That was just ONE of the many things that bonded us together. I wish that you hadn't decided to join the Army...yeah, I know you wanted to, I know you loved it, and I know you died doing what you believe in... but at least for now, that isn't good enough. We have such awful people and you're the one that God takes? Life isn't fair, and this just proves it again....and yes, I know, God has greater plans, God is wise, God blah blah blah. He took my grandpa and that hurt, but I understood... he had already lived his life, had 5 kids, been married for 69 years, live, loved, laughed... but Adam, he was 21 (almost 22) and didn't get the chance to truly live.

I wish I had gone with you. I know I'm "nasty girls" [(US Army) Term used by regular Army soldiers to describe National Guardsmen] and you were active, but I feel like maybe I could have protected you. Probably not, but that's how I feel.

I wish your nieces got to see you more. Alayna saw your page on Friday as I was checking to see if it was true, and she said "Uncle Ag-um?" and after I said yeah, she said, "LOVE YOU"... I think she was thinking you were on Skype. That was SO HARD NOT TO BREAK DOWN.

I remember....
     Taking you to your first day of high school (a senior talking to a freshman! YIKES)
     The dances we went to in a group, Homecoming...Sadies...
     Building forts with you in grandma Hantz's dining room
     Helping each other survive during Great grandma Smith's holiday dinners since we were the outcasts...
     Fighting over papas lap (you can have it for now, but one day, even if not soon, I will come and claim it back)
     Calling you "AD-DUMB" ...oh how that pissed you off.
     "DOBIE'S SISTER MADE OUT WITH DICKEY", Can't believe I even talked to freshman...okay, yeah I can because family is my world.
     Our walks with papa for candy
     Our walks to church

I tried to be a good sister and I hope you feel that I was. Sometimes we fought, but it wasn't for long because after all, family is family and I can't think of my life without family. I hope I helped make your freshman year easier.

I feel so guilty that I didn't talk longer with you on my wedding day.... I should have. Yes, I know I couldn't see the future, but you had stayed up ALL day to Skype with me, and then I barely said 30 words to you... and now, I can't ever hear your voice again. October 15th was the last time I saw your face and it was for seconds.

Oh, how I pray you back, but with mom coming back from Dover, I know it's not going to happen. I created a page for you. I'm so proud to say, everyone loves and misses you. I mean, I know what a great guy you are, I know how much love you had, and I knew you would one day do great things.... I'm just glad other people saw that too. So many people had loved you.

Nothing I say seems to amount to much. I have so much to say to you, so many thoughts, so many dreams to share, so many memories, so many... of everything that I now won't get to share (in person) with you.

You were supposed to get married in 2 short months, now you have a fiancee devastated.
You were supposed to be home before my birthday, now you will be with Papa watch the festivities.
You were supposed to be in the QC for Christmas, now you will get to celebrate with Papa.
You were supposed to live until after I died, now you have left me heartbroken.
You were supposed to have kids, and now you have a fiancee that's devastated.
You were supposed to be a great leader....now you ......

You told me a couple of months ago, "If i die before you, I want you to make sure 'I'll see you on the other side' is played at my funeral." It should have been a bright red flag because the day you told me that was September 11th. I had a dream that you died 3 days before a big event. I was thinking it was my wedding since I was dreaming it in October, but now I know it was 3 days before your birthday.

I talked to you Nov 12 on the phone and you told me, "I'm going on a dangerous route. If you don't hear anything by my birthday that means I made it back okay". That should have been another flag. Normally, you told me to pray extra hard for you and your unit when you went on dangerous routes... not this time. Maybe in your mind, you knew something was up and were just trying to put on a front. I couldn't tell you and now I can't ask you.

I can't believe I found out by Facebook that my baby brother was KIA... and then had to tell my mother because she wasn't going to be home for hour, that she needed to go home and wait.  How do you tell your own mother that she's going to get that dreaded knock on the door that is every mother/wife/NOK's worst nightmare? Trust me, it's harder than anything.

I must stop now because now I'm just getting angry... maybe one day... I wont be so angry, I won't hate the army for taking you away. I'll realize this was all part of the master plan when God gave you to mom.
I'll heal...
I love you,
     Your left handed sister.
RIP Adam Dobereiner, November 21st 1989 - November 18th 2011


  1. Oh I cried. I burst out when I learned about the birthday. That is as real as it gets. Writing through grief, so beautiful and tender. Such a waste our young people being slaughtered. Our children, our brothers and sisters. I wish the war would end.

  2. So young, so sad. I'm so very, very sorry.

  3. Condolences from a random citizen. Best regards to your family and to all who loved your brother. And thank you for posting this letter, which reminds the rest of us of the true costs of our policy choices. To borrow a thought from Mr. A. Lincoln, your brother has done his job and given his all. Now it's up to the rest of us to make sure it wasn't in vain. I hope you find some peace eventually, but after a loss like this I know it won't be soon.

  4. Thoughts and prayers are with you. So brave to be able to write through this horrendous time. You and your brother are brave people.

  5. Thanks for sharing this heartbreaking story...

  6. So very heartbreaking...so very sorry. God bless this family and comfort them especially as we celebrate Thanksgiving. Just makes this loss extra hard.

  7. Thank you all for the support. My wife and I appreciate all of the well wishes. This is an awful event and it hits even harder since both Helen and I are also members of the Military. It hurts to hear this about any Soldier but this has been very difcult for everyone.

  8. Cindy thank you for posting Helen's letter in complete, so many died, so many maimed, so many left behind...what is the point, we may never know, but I do know that God has a Master Plan be we accept it or not. Is there ever a good time for a loss of this magnitude, I do not think so...but there is hope. I pray that the anger Helen feel today will subside, but the love of her little brother will never fade. God Bless she and her family. augie (I pray for our soldiers for a safe return home)

  9. Nice post.  Sometimes these posts have to happen... makes the other kind more meaningful.  

    My heart goes out to Helen and her family.

  10. Thank you for commenting... this should really be my most read post instead of one about peeing in the shower...

  11. So true, that does say something, doesn't it?  The title does not seem as fun as peeing in the shower.  But that is why I read this one.  We need balance in life.  Thank you for helping me find some.  The last photo is very powerful.  

  12. Devastating. Things like this are unexplainable. My heart breaks for Helen and her family. Adam is truly a hero worth remembering.

  13. I've read this several times now. I feel like it's my duty—partly to honor the sacrifice Adam made for all of us, and out of respect for Helen sharing her anguish with us.

  14. Wow, thank you, Lynne. That is so good of you. This piece gets a lot of reads, but not many comments for some reason. Maybe people just don't know what to say. Thank you for saying what you have said. It means a lot!

  15. This comment was made by Marty Durbin, Helen's husband.

  16. <3 Thank you Cindy.  I have tried honoring Adam this weekend...it just seems harder and harder as time goes on...


  17. Hang in there, Helen. Sometimes it has to get hard before it gets easier. This is a circumstance where you may go to depths of sorrow and grief that you have never felt before and will never feel again. But Helen, there is glory and honor in Adam's death and how many people can truly say that about a departed loved one? He made the ultimate sacrifice. Our country owes him an unrepayable debt. Few of us can ever understand what that means. My heart just aches for you and your family on this holiday weekend. The thoughts of many others you don't even know are with you as well. Sometimes when your heart is in the bottom of a well and you can barely see the light at the top, you must fill it with tears before you can swim to the top and breathe again.

    Thinking of you... 

  18. There are no words.....just tears

  19. Kelly, thank you for taking the time to read this to honor both Helen and Adam. It is appreciated.

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