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Once in the long ago, there was a place on the internet much like Ricochet’s PIT. It had started out as the comment section for an odd news story, but it continued on with hundreds of thousands of comments long after that particular story was no longer accessible. Because of the initial story, it attracted an odd and quirky bunch who were soon camping out on the thread. One of these internet squatters was “Tor.”
Tor was hilariously funny. Over time, some of his history emerged. He had been a minor Olympian for his European nation. At one point, he had been in his country’s military and had participated in Desert Storm in the 1990s. Much later I found out he had also been in the forces involved in trying to protect civilians in the break-up of Yugoslavia. There was a lot of pain behind the funny.
When a bunch of yahoos decided to fly jumbo jets into buildings, Tor re-enlisted in his nation’s military. He was in his country’s special forces. He was sent somewhere, I was never certain where, although I had clues. The one thing I know is that wherever he was sent, his country was not officially there or participating. Remember when a photo in the news media outed the fact that some Polish forces were participating in, was it Iraq? Well, he wasn’t Polish, but he was in a similar situation. His nation’s government was fulfilling obligations, but did not want to admit it to the public. He was always cagey as to what was happening due to concerns over operational security.
Whatever place he was in, there was a bomb. One of what later became known as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) took out a bus near where he and others happened to be standing. It blew him back hard, and he landed on his shoulder. He had minor injuries from shrapnel and scraping along a hard surface. He also had fibers from his flak jacket embedded in his shoulder. But, he got up and walked away from it, which was more than many were able to say from the incident. Three days later, he fell down dead. It was renal, liver, and heart failure.
Officially, since his country was not participating where the injury occurred, he had been injured in a training accident in his own country. Yes, governments lie.
Luckily for Tor, he was close to medical facilities, and he was quickly revived. The IED had had some chemical weapon included. It had taken a few days for the trace amount to which he had been exposed to shut down his systems. He was evacuated to a military hospital in Germany where he spent the next several months. The doctors were able to deal with the after-effects of the chemical weapon, but there were other complications from the initial injuries. He lost a few fingers to gangrene. But the thing that caused the most trouble for months on end were those fibers from his flak jacket that had been embedded in his shoulder. The area would not heal, and it became infected. The doctors finally determined that the arm and shoulder would have to come off.
In the months he had spent in the hospital, someone had suggested a new place on the internet for him to go, a place where wounded warriors used poetry as a form of therapy. As he knew I was a poet, he had brought me over there as well. We had spent time together through that site and communicated nearly daily. The site was a bit more private than the place we had initially met had been.
On the day he was to have surgery, I did not go on the internet at all.
I was doing dishes after dinner when I heard someone behind and above me laugh with the thought, “How domestic!” I immediately knew it was Tor coming to say goodbye. I dried my hands and went back to my office to turn on my computer and log in. There on the poetry therapy site was a fresh announcement from Tor’s brother. Tor had just passed a few minutes before. He had been too weak to survive the amputation surgery after months in the hospital.
My friends, I know that many of you have had contacts from those who have passed. What are your stories?Published in