As I've written many times, the wounded servicemen and women who come back from war and conquer their gargantuan new challenges are an inspiration, a testament to the human spirit. A reminder that much of what we do and don't do is "all in our heads."
We celebrate those who successfully conquer physical challenges and remake their lives in defiance of supposed "limitations." When we see how far they've come we start to breathe easier, believe that they really are the lucky ones, settle into looking forward to a future instead of worrying about survival in the present, cheer them as they reach back to help those who are walking the same path.
They are the success stories, our bittersweet joys amid all the war and suffering.
Ryan Job was one of those guys. Which just makes this all the worse:
When he was blinded in 2006, his fellow SEALS and milblog connections reached out to ask Valour-IT to speed a laptop to him, knowing that as a real "go-getter" he'd have a very hard time accepting the slow pace of learning to function as a blind man. We were happy to oblige--I remember emailing back and forth to secure entrance to his hospital room for our SA representative.
Blinded by a sniper's bullet in Iraq, Ryan Job retained his characteristic determination and persistence. He climbed Mount Rainier, trained for a triathlon and became a spokesman for an organization that helps wounded veterans transition to civilian life.
"He didn't back down from any challenge," said a friend, Tyler Lein, of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Mr. Job, who grew up in Issaquah, died Thursday morning after major reconstructive surgery at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix. He was 28.
I never met him, but his name meant something to me and this news pierced my heart. A double loss--first to the SEALs, and then to his fellow wounded warriors and the rest of us.
By all indications, we were blessed to have him for at least a little while. But it's never enough.
My thoughts and prayers for his family, who are dealing with the horrifying shock of finding that instead of cheating death in 2006, he had merely received a brief reprieve.
I'm reminded once again that the world isn't fair. Damn.