I've been working studiously, for the first time in my life, avoiding reading the Memorial Day articles, and threads. Why? I've got this wound, which is healing, but is still there. He died in Fallujah last September. My next-door neighbor's child.
I've got soldiers "who came back" at my house, now. I just checked, they're up and awake. All of us are somber. We each wear KIA bracelets. Caught one staring out the window, he caught me and asked: "You okay?" I laughed and replied: "I'm as okay as YOU ARE!" We laughed a bit.
I've been avoiding going full bore into this Memorial Day, for the first time; and because the wounds which still pang over MY loss.
I come from a long line, both sides, of men who've fought and died for freedom. Some came back, and some didn't. And every year since my children were born, I've been taking them to Memorial Day events.
This year, I'm a bit shaky. Last night I watched a bit of Gary Seniece's Tribute to Our Fallen -- all I could do was 20 minutes before I was a near mess.
The President, in his speech, is so right:
In their hometowns, these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are more than names on a roll of honor. They were friends and neighbors, teachers and coaches, classmates and colleagues. Each was the most important person in someone's life; each had hopes for the future, and each left a place that can never be filled.
If I dwell upon my own recent loss, it hurts like crazy. I'll go into my hurt, a bit, have a visit with Mick. I'll remember that last time we were together, before he went off again. I was washing the car in the front yard, when a car drove up, and out popped Mick, coming straight over to me. I'll remember this once little child grown to taller than me. And so glad we were to see each other. He had run straight over to see me. Like all those times when he was a kid and telling me how fast he could run; and how well he was doing in school.
We caught up. He knew he could always count on me to not be bashful about what I thought, and saying what I thought. He knew I'd tell him how proud I was of him; and he'd reply in this nonchalant way as per Joe Friday: "Jest doin' my job, ma'am"." And we'd laugh.
I'll remember that hug as we parted, and his tallness now requiring my face to go straight into that niche between his shoulder and head, my face in his neck. And I remember so perfectly, his warmth and smell, and I can hear and remember the feel of his laughter, yet, rumbling in his throat and chest. And my pulling away saying: "Y'all come back now, ya hear!" And his reply: "Order accepted!" Well, his calling was greater than any order I could have given...
And quickly, then, I'll remember what he died for. And what he believed in. Then, I'm okay -- the tears and pain won't take me down and out. When I stay focused upon what he fought for, I'm okay.
Today, you will witness the stoicism and courage of those who've lost loved ones. You might wonder why they aren't falling apart, while remembering and giving tribute. I'll let you in on this secret:
It's because we are remembering what our loved ones fought for, what they believed in, and that they did what they did because they loved us and cared about us, believed in Freedom, and a civil world. And in this light, we are made whole and because we are joined with our departed in that love for our fellow man. We might cry a bit, but because we love that freedom so fiercely and we loved that our departed did too.
In the twinkling of an eye, all those departed, and all those remaining, whether or not they've personally lost loved ones in pursuit of freedom, will be joined, if only for a nanosecond in something greater than ourselves. We shall be transformed.
I can be in a crowd and tell who has lost a close soldier, and who hasn't. There's something in the eyes. And when that connection is made, there's a complete non-verbal communication which takes place, And it warms us. I have found myself in major, enveloping hugs with total strangers, over this matter. And in that brief moment, something big and important was added to each of us.
Where mere moments before we carried this lonely place of loss within ourselves, we were now made whole by a simple connection.
A connection of pure love.
So, yes, Memorial Day is here again. And my flag is out. And I'm ready to go; good to go. And I will look just like anyone else remembering and paying tribute.
And the tears will probably be lightly flowing down my cheeks when we get to that part about "ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country, our freedom".
And in that instant, I will not only see my neighbor, but all those in my ancestral line who died for freedom. And I will give homage and thanks to all those I didn't know past, present, and future who died for freedom from tyranny. And I will also see the faces of so many who did come back through several wars. I'll remember their characters and the things they said and did.
And the echoes of it all will fill the aching holes and heal the patches on my soul.
If ya go into Memorial Day thinking about yourself and your losses or someone else's loss; you'll be a mess.
If ya go into Memorial Day thinking about Love For Your Fellow Man -- you will be made whole. And you will join in with all those through thousands of years who gave their all in the name of pure love for their fellow man; their neighbor.
Memorial Day is our way of giving that love right back to those who died so that we might live in freedom, as imperfect as it comes in the mortal world.
My heart goes out to those with even more recent loss. Pulling the picture together for Memorial Day can be hard. For them, I pray strength, that they might rise on that bubble of love and be able to join in on the calvacade of warriors, live and dead, who yet march in the name of love for each other and freedom.
Long May She Wave.