Cold Ground for a Summer Love

By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 1, 2007

It is but one white crest in a sea of thousands, but Kira knows Colin's grave like home.

She comes to it in the morning, before the air fills with the sounds of idling tour buses and rifle salutes. She comes bearing gifts, an armful of fresh flowers or some plastic ones when it's cold.

For more than three months, she has come to Arlington National Cemetery to talk to Colin about the minutiae of her life, to kiss his narrow white headstone topped with a Star of David and to stretch out her slim body next to his as if they were lying together again.

Kira is no war widow. She is 19, and just barely, at that. The young couple's only talk of marriage had been a joke about their similar last names, hers Wolf and his Wolfe. But they fell in love at once, the kind of reckless, consuming love available only to the young.

"The kind of love where your whole world is on fire and you can't stop smiling," she said. "The kind of love where you dance around and you don't feel like you're part of this world anymore."

They dated for one perfect month before he shipped out to Iraq with his fellow Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., in July.

The day he left, she gave him a gift -- a camera, and instructions to photograph everything he saw. As he rounded the barracks without so much as a glance behind, she told herself he would be back in seven short months. She could wait.

But he came back much sooner, just seven weeks after his departure, his burned remains laid in a flag-draped coffin. He was buried at Arlington on Sept. 11, five years to the day that inspired his journey, one of at least 3,000 members of the U.S. military killed in a war that began when he was 16 years old.

On Sept. 12, her 19th birthday, she returned to his grave. She has come every weekend since, and every other day when she's home from college.

"When we were apart, all we did was talk about how we could hold each other again when he came back," Kira said, plucking at the grass around his grave. "Now that he's back, we're only a few feet apart and I still can't hold him."

Young Love

Kira was 18 when she locked eyes with 19-year-old Colin Joseph Wolfe in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant in Manassas on a humid summer night.

"He's so cute," Kira told her friend.

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