Friday, December 08, 2006

Dustin Libby

Yesterday, at 4:54pm as I was getting ready to leave work, I received a call from my friend Jeannine's mother. I answered the phone like the clown I am. She was quiet for a moment then asked me if I was sitting down.

Jeannine recieved a call yesterday morning that Dustin, her fiance, was killed in action in Iraq. He was sniped in the neck while guarding a safe house where his team was sleeping. It was his second trip to Iraq. He had just gone a couple months ago, and he proposed to Jeannine just a little while before he left.

I didn’t know Dustin too well. I met him several times, but the first few times we did not talk much as he is rather quiet till he warms up to people. We did begin to talk more before he left, and he was a good guy.

What I really saw was the impact on Jeannine. I have seen her date a bunch of losers, and even a few decent ones.

I have never seen her as happy as she was with him.

With all her loser boyfriends, she usually kept them kind of away from me. Being that I am always single, and she often was, we often provided a lot of emotional support to each other that others would interpret as something going on. I am also protective of her, and she knew they were losers.

She couldn’t wait for me to meet him. She really wanted to know what I thought of him. And I think was a bit disappointed when we didn’t become best friends right away, because he is rather reserved and I am definitely not. But we never fought; I respected him from the beginning. It just took a chance for us to be in a semi-private environment to get to know each other.

He was a great man. The strong silent type that supposedly every woman wants and part of every man wants to be. Especially me, who is so often getting himself in trouble with his mouth.

Jeannine has pictures of him all over her house. Many of just him, but mostly of the two of them together. Jeannine HATES CAMERAS. She is always slapping my camera phone away if I try to pull it out, even if I am just making a phone call. She looked beautiful in all of them. Everyone commented on her glow before he left, which she jokingly attributed to the sex, but it stayed after he left.

It was gone yesterday, and there was nothing any of us could do to restore it.

At her mom's beckoning, her father, uncle, cousin, Chrissie, me and even Jessica, a friend we haven't seen in awhile came to give her support. Being the clown that I am, I get myself in trouble a lot for being insensitive. But sometimes even I can tell it’s not appropriate, and I really can’t do much else. Last night was one of those (extremely) rare times I was quiet.

As I said there are pictures of him everywhere. Along with wedding planning books and to do lists of gift registries and other wedding related tasks written in lipstick on her mirror.

My first instinct was to take them down. Not the pictures, but the miscellaneous stuff that is just enough to remind her of him. But that isn’t right, she needs them. She said last night, even with what happened in the end, that she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

As I said, I never got the chance to know him really well. But I was looking forward to the opportunity. I still have a T-shirt depicting a silhouette of a marine on a stagecoach with camels pulling it saying “Urban Cowboy.” I am not sure what to do with it. I will probably send it to his unit.

When he left, he asked me to take care of Jeannine for him. He was worried about loosing her to some other guy. I think that is probably a big part of why he proposed to her so early; he seemed as concerned with loosing her as anything he would face in Iraq.

I already knew what I was going to say to him however. And it ended up being the last thing I said to him as well.

“Don’t worry, I will take care of her for you, you just take care of yourself.”