"But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing." Oliver Wendell Holmes
"I'm sorry I must leave, but I must do what is asked of me by my God, my Country, and my Corps.. and so, the war blog begins, again." ~B
21 July 2010
Just Another Day
Bestie is now 65 days away from his mid tour R &R. He and Bestie in Law will be going on a getaway, which excites them both to no end. I know that they will both be so happy to have the time together.
This is the lighthearted stuff. If you look close, if you are let in, you can also get a glimpse into the darker side of this struggle.
I hit a breaking point this month that Bestie was able to talk me through, for once. I'm not particularly proud of it, but it is what it is, for both of us.
I had a series of run-ins with people who I call "mall people," referring to the quote "The Marines are at war, America is at the mall." These mall people have to tell me their opinions on the war, on strategy, on how those boys should just come home because why are they over there anyway. If you continue after my hostile response of "gee, I don't know, maybe cause a bunch of ideologues in Afghanistan attacked our country (again) blew up a couple of our buildings (again), killed (again) a few thousand people, and decimated the FDNY," well, you deserve whatever happens after that. I cannot escape the war, I see it in everything. The mall people only see it if it inconveniences them in some way, if they trip over it, and even then, only see the tip of the iceberg, if they see it at all.
I had a run in with a couple of groups on the 4th of July who wanted me to do tributes to the troops, but "you know, keep it light. Don't focus on death or fighting, or any of that stuff, it is too depressing. We don't want to see that, it's a downer." My usually contained temper exploded at that point. I saw stars. My ears turned red. I got tunnel vision. My heartbeat pounded in my ears. A friend later told me she had never seen that look on my face before and she sincerely thought I was going to punch someone. I wanted to. I didn't. I just walked away. But some cosmic shift in the universe must have taken place because Bestie's spidey-sense was tingling. I get an email that night asking if everything was ok.
No. No it was not ok. It hasn't been ok since G took a round to the head, since J left his left leg and half his blood volume in the desert, since L hung upside down and bleeding next to her dead Sgt for an hour after an IED while they tried to extricate her from the vehicle, since C killed the man shooting at him, since J went down in the helo crash, since S's 12 year olds with RPG launchers, since J had a mortar land on his chest, since BD held the hands of a hundred dying soldiers, since M spent 18 months driving up and down the roads of the the Sunni Triangle, since Bestie was ambushed and tried to keep the blood of a fellow Marine from seeping through his hands, since an AK round collapsed W forehead, since a thousand Phils, Rays, Michaels, Chris', Ambers, Kellys, Shellys, Jacobs, Mikes, Glenns, Donalds, Dereks, Stevens, Brians, Kathys, Maggies, and their stories.
I can't put it away. I can't go to the mall. My heart, my soul, is with the Marines, with the Army, at war.
I keep all of this inside me somewhere. I push it to the back and it sits there most of the time time. But it is a darkness that seeps into your very soul. It is fear and anger and anxiety and helplessness. It is there and it is something that you have to deal with eventually, even if you don't know how to begin. It eats away little pieces of something unknown. Most days it is a non-factor but once in a blue moon, you find only your nose above water and it is all you can do to breathe.
That is when my Bestie throws the life ring.
It is what we do for each other.
He also knows the darkness intimately, for he too, has feared drowning in it.
I can share with him and he will give me neither the blank stare nor the horrified look of the sheltered.
He goes where others fear to tread or are simply not welcome.
My best friend returned the favor this month, for the many times I have thrown the ring to him.
He jumps into the darkness with me and says, 'I have been there and we will get out together.'
He empathizes: "this is, believe it or not, still a war. sure, it's different from any other war ever fought by our military, but it is a war nonetheless. bad things happen to good people, and not bad enough things happen to the bad people. if you want to talk about being cynical, i sit here some days and...i laugh at these little people on the screen... but still, that i laugh at watching people die, other human beings... it's just something i never thought i would do."
He consoles: "i'm here with you on the boat across the river to senility and cynicism. maybe you just need a break? and it's alright if you do. you don't always have to push yourself 120% for this all. you have earned your right to take time to yourself when you need it, or take time away from thoughts of these places and these people. no one can blame you, and no one who truly knows you like i do, or who truly respects and loves you the way i do, could ever think anything less of you. you're a heroic individual, and you're worth more to the world than any of these people who don't understand you, kid.Keep breathing."
We turn off the chat, get off the computers.
He begins another day in Afghanistan, one closer to being home.
I head to bed and say my prayers of safety and thanks, hoping my sleep is dreamless.