I was looking through some of Idaho Journal writer Bill Schaefer's dispatches last night, trying to find the one he wrote about Badger 6 and me. Alongside the title list for his writing is a constantly changing slideshow. When I loaded the page, the image that came up was a picture of a hand holding a framed photograph- a picture of Clev and his fiancé. I've been thinking about him a lot lately, and unexpectedly seeing his picture was a bit of a shock.
Of the three guys we lost, I was closest to him. We'd talked during mobilization back in the states about opening up a coffee mini-bar when we got to Iraq; it was a series of conversations that revealed later how little we understood about the environment we would find ourselves in. We never got the room with an espresso machine that we'd talked about, nor did we really have much spare time to make coffee for people other than ourselves. He did it anyway, though- producing some decent brew on a tiny little machine in his room.
Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly
I've always had vivid dreams, and Clev has made his appearances in them as long as I've known him. Back before deployment, he showed up in dreams of crazy stunts and wild times back in Boise. Then, he turned up in dreams of a memorial service in the dusty future. I never told him about those- superstition aside, there's no point in worrying about something that's never going to happen. After it did happen, he kept showing up from time to time. Once, he told me the same thing he told me the last time I spoke to him- "Don't feel guilty, man... we all have a job to do". I'd told him not to stay safe, because I was supposed to be out on patrol until I drew guard duty instead, and I'd feel guilty if something happened out there.
Hold fast to dreams/For when dreams go/Life is a barren field/Frozen with snow
The latest dream was earlier today, just before I got onto the internet to be surprised by his picture. The platoon was back home; a bunch of us were at the mall for some reason. Everyone has little quirks about them- in the dream, those quirks were exaggerated until each person was nothing more than a caricature of themselves. Anderson was off shopping for guns, while Kildow and Sgt Kelsch were having a no-holds-barred grappling match in the middle of the food court. Yaw was doing pull-ups on an overhanging railing, and LT was standing on a little stage telling stories. I was sitting and writing behind a pile of coffee cups. When I went back to the stand to get fresh coffee, Clev was standing behind the counter making coffee.
At least I know he's happy, somewhere.
*Poem is "Dreams", by Langston Hughes