11 years ago in 2011 after surviving a suicide bombing and attempted bombing planned and executed by Taliban operatives in Tarin Kot, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, I heard 1 sentence that changed how I feel about life forever. Later that evening, I visited some of the wounded in a medical tent on my base. I wanted to see the kids first, and I brought them crocheted stuffed animals and candy. The parents and children were very receptive save for one. He had internal injuries, and understandably was not feeling well and didn’t even pretend to be happy to see me. I still think about him and hope he made it.
I visited adults next, and one young Pashtun told me his story, and it impacted how I view life now. “Mattiullah” was only 25. Only 3 days prior to the bombings, he and his family had saved money and spent it all on a van to move them to Kandahar. Mattiullah hit an IED placed by the Taliban and he survived but instantly lost his wife, his 3 year old son, his 1 year old daughter, his wife, his mother, his father, and an aunt and uncle. After surviving the suicide bombings, he had to have his right leg amputated, and I saw and smelled the bandaging. It was war time. The tent had no windows. It was dark and gloomy. The men were very happy to get the cigarettes, snacks, and reading materials I brought.
Mattiullah said something that I will never forget: “I’m so disappointed in how my life has turned out.” I asked him what he planned for the future. He answered that his one goal now was to get a prosthetic leg and take up farming again.
I am thankful for what I have. I’m thankful for where I live. There is light in every dark place. Sometimes, it’s so faint, it’s not worth looking for it. That time, it came to me.