At that time, gas was considered too high at $2 a gallon. John Kerry was running for president, the national debt was only $7 trillion or so, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were still on the run and we were awaiting the birth of my niece.
We were also just getting acquainted with the names of cities in Iraq and Afghanistan-- Basra, Mosul, Nineveh, Kandahar...exotic and far off. Very far off.
I was naive enough to think I would never be affected by the Iraq invasion though I evaluated people based on what their views were about Iraq and the 2001 catastrophe.
Before that point, I had met an interesting man with diverse interests and was having a great time getting to know more about him. His understanding or the world was similar to my own, and he was mature beyond his age! In my admiration for him, I found myself wanting to know more about what he knew and what he thought on many subjects. He was a likable sort of fellow.
His name was Nicholas (Nick) Berg. It still invokes sadness within me to write that name. The situation is something I will never understand in this life time no matter what equations I try to use. I suppose that's what makes it harder to close that chapter.
He had been to Iraq before on business and was back in one piece...but strangely enough when he said he was going back...I got the feeling he wasn't coming back. Even though I knew I am rarely wrong when I get those feelings, I went into denial when I heard he was missing.
He couldn't be missing. He had just sent an email a few days prior, and had stated that he would be home in a few days. He probably had to use another route or something! So I waited on good news.
The positive flickers of flames were quickly extinguished one afternoon when I walked into the house turned the T.V and computer on--I simultaneously found an email from his father and saw the news on the television. I cried for a very good while. I think that was when I developed a semi hatred for the media and the Internet. I have never and will never see those ghastly videos online.
And this is how the invasion in Iraq made it into my life. Fast and furious.
Up to now, I catch myself wondering what the point of our acquaintance was. Was I learning from him? was he learning from me? Was the lesson someone else's?
I was more sad than happy when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Nick's supposed murderer) was killed. It just brought more sadness to the realization that the dude's death wouldn't bring Nick back and that more people were dying and even more people were weeping.
Any way, the reason I bring this up today is that there will be a fundraiser--Bergopalooza in a few weeks http://www.nickberg.org/ . There is a scholarship in Nick's name and the details of the scholarship are on the website. If you can make it--please go out. If you can donate please send some money or something.
Insha'allah he rests in peace.
April 2nd 1978- May 2004