This is a difficult thing to write out. I lost a good friend this weekend. Part of me doesn’t want to talk about it but part of me needs to. I don’t know if it is something I have to do to help me come to terms with such a loss or if it is because I want to share with everyone I know what they will not really hear about from the news… from others who did not know her. Her name was Anne.. we were friends and co-workers.
I know that I wasn’t her BEST friend. However, Anne had a way of making everyone feel that they were. She had a way of giving everyone the type of attention that just made them feel very special. She had an infectious smile and a wicked sense of humor. We had spoken less than a week ago and she was telling me she was enjoying her time but looking forward to coming back to the states and preparing for her next posting. Everyone I know was looking forward to her coming back and just looking forward to watching her advance through her career.
She was an amazing young lady who had so much ahead of her. Barely 2 years older than my oldest daughter yet with so much poise, grace, humor, humbleness and intelligence. She was a beautiful person who was loved and respected by everyone. She was half my age and yet I looked up to her and wished I could be so eloquent, so kind and so beautiful inside and out. I had been asked to write a review of her for a position she was applying for and I never once had to pause and think of something to say that might fit into a category that would make her “qualify” for anything. She qualified for everything on her own merit. She was honest, hard-working and most of all caring.
I spent almost 2 years working with her in Venezuela. When it came time for all of us to start looking for our next postings, true to her nature she applied for and received an outstanding position that really suited her personality as well as her ability. She would be working in a public affairs office in a country desperately in need of a person (of people) like her. She chose this position because it carried with it the opportunity to do something she loved and felt was worthwhile. She really did believe that she could change the world.
Anne was with a group of people who were presenting books to a school in a little town in Afghanistan. These books were written by American authors but translated into the local language to help present a different picture of the world for these young kids. They were gifts to children that really don’t have much else.. especially in the way of education. Anne believed in this work and was very excited about this opportunity.
Sadly, she and other members of the military and civilian community were killed and others were injured. You can watch the news or read the papers to get all the sick details.. I don’t have the stomach for it right now. They were allegedly not the intended targets.. just some people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In my opinion, there is really never a right place for the hate that was demonstrated that day. I don’t understand the type of people who commit these atrocities.. the sickness.. the hatred.. I don’t understand the rationality… largely because there is none.
I do understand that this was the job she chose.. and she chose it with serious consideration. The newspapers wrote amazing things about her.. everyone has spoken of her sacrifice and how she died making a difference. They wrote of how she chose this job only with the motive of making a difference.. which she was doing…so many amazing photos and memories and kind words everywhere about her. These words and things right now are no consolation to me. I know in time they will be.. but…
…right now I’m devastated .. sadly I have to get up in the morning and continue on. I’d like to take a week to mourn.. but even a week would not bring her back. It’s beyond anger that I feel. I know that there is always room for hate and anger.. and that is what those people want.. I don’t want to give it to them.. I won’t give it to them.
I want to think of Anne only as how I remember her.. spontaneous, strong and kind. I want to try to only think of the good things about her and the fun times we had..and to remember she did die making a difference… even though at this time that makes no difference to those of us left behind….
Life is precious.. and memories are all we ever really have .. keep the good ones. Thanks for listening.
- U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan dies ‘doing what she loved’ (cnn.com)
- Memorial service held for young diplomat killed in Afghanistan (wgntv.com)
- Memorial service for Anne Smedinghoff (ireport.cnn.com)
- Kabul Afghanistan (kabul.usembassy.gov)