A Toast to the Ones We Lost
Author: Sonia Rai
There’s a certain type of person with a certain type of heart who, before setting out to do something they love, will see the inherent danger, corruption, and uncertainty ahead of them, and still choose to act anyway.
This is a toast to them.
They’re the type of people who aren’t in it for the glory because they realize that glory isn’t something that can be found, rather it can only be bestowed. So they go, not in search of glory, but with an openness to it and an awareness that it is something that they might glimpse, but never keep.
They’re the type of people you fall in love with despite the inherent danger and uncertainty of their way of life because, in a world filled with the atrophied spirits of those who live in search of safety and comfort, they somehow are the only ones who ever seem fully alive.
So when they die, whether it be n a training mishap, in combat, or by suicide or sickness, there’s a real sense that we have lost something of which there was already too little: people like them.
It’s not so much that “only the good die young,” but that only the good truly seem to be alive in the first place.
That’s why, when they die, it is — for a while — impossible to see their death as anything other than cruelty. To only be able to speak about them and talk about them seems unjust. Until one day, we begin to realize there is a hidden glory in the stories we tell about them — a kind of glory most people don’t understand, but will one day.
Until that day comes, with the pictures, videos, and messages they left behind, and with the stories they wrote on our hearts, we recollect them. And we continue to collect and gather more and more pieces of them which lay hidden in the time stretching out before us.
We show people what we can of them. We pass on glimpses and flashes of the light that they once shone on us, and we trust that people will know it one day — what made them so different, what set them apart, and why they could never be forgotten.
Until that day, we raise a toast to them.
We will remember them and try — impossible as it may be some days — to live with a faith that only their death could bring out of us — a faith that, as David Hart wrote, “set us free from optimism long ago and taught us hope instead.”
A toast to the ones we lost yet somehow still keep.
Sonia Rai honors the life of Captain John Graziano, U.S. Airforce.