Sunday, March 25, 2007
I'm not in it, but I still feel it and for those that are...
I think Terry was sweeping the floor when I looked at him and felt a wave of emotion. It was a benign act with no power to evoke any feelings and that's the irony of these moments. Doing something routine represented something extraordinary: He was home, standing right in front of me. I had forgotten how that felt, to feel surprised that he was in my house, in my kitchen, not in Iraq sweating buckets and rushing off the phone due to a mortar attack that annoyed more than terrorized.
I feel guilty that I don't have to deal with Iraq anymore in that way.
I'm writing an article about military health care, and I read a lot about Walter Reed, Med Hold, MEBs, DD214s, etc. and I think about the spouses who have endured so much for so long, those with wounded soldiers and deceased. Is there no compensation for their suffering as well?Maybe they're simply happy to have their service member with them, or know that no amount of money can bring them back, but there is something about a check that says, I know this is hard for you. Terry got his disability rating from the Veteran's Administration for the brain injury sustained in an IED. It was much more than expected, and while it won't take away the chronic headaches or ringing in his ears, he said he feels like someone finally validated what he has been through. I feel that way too. I began taking medication for a chronic pain during his deployment, which my neurologist could only explain with stress and told me to try and relax. (ha!) Well, he's home, but I'm still taking it - and I don't want to pay for it :)
Wed is the one year anniversary of a soldier in his unit who was killed in Iraq, maybe that's why I began watching Newsweek's voices of the war dead story on MSNBC today. The stories overwhelm the listener with grief and loss, and pride.
And here we are.
We're buying a home and picking paint colors. Terry is on the cusp of his dream job. I am writing regularly and I'm also working and my children are healthy and I feel fulfilled (if not tired), but every night at dinner and bedtime our boys still pray for all the soldiers in Iraq (meaning, in their world, everyone fighting of course :). And sometimes Terry and I will peek at each other while Gabe prays and we are so proud that he knows some other little boy is living without his daddy with the same fears that Gabe had, and Gabe cares about them. And I know there are so many widows and orphans, and I can't stop thinking that war is such a terrible, ugly thing and I wish it would end soon.
A little part of me thinks that Sean or Tom or Robert is living somewhere oblivious to the chaos, that I'll get to meet these men who I only know through their widows and we'll say, what a bad dream that was. I think of the Vietnam Wall. Names of troops young and old, dreams unfulfilled, frozen in granite forever. Yes, their memories live on through obscure blogs or memorials stretching high and wide, but their physical bodies came to a jolting stop. It's unnatural that life would end like that.
We went to a welcome home party for my friend whose husband just returned from a year in Afghanistan. Cars lined the street with bumper stickers like "Proud Army Wife," and "Support our Troops." Every license plate represented a different state - none but ours with the state we actually live in. A handful of kids, ranging from 7 to 10 years old I think, playing in the middle of the otherwise quiet street, slowly moved to the side as we pulled up to the curb to park. The stared and pointed and I figured they were irritated that we interrupted their game. My husband told me later that they were talking about the Purple Heart license plates on our beat up Escort. They knew what a Purple Heart meant. How many civilian kids know that? Should they? Maybe there should be some kids in this world, blissfully unaware...