The writer takes the reader's hand and guides them through the valley of sorrow and joy without ever having to mention those words. Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
It's the Fourth of July weekend, commerating the adoption of The Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. A holiday filled with flying flags and fireworks, picnics, parades and barbacues, political speeches and ceremonies, celetrating the history, government and traditions of the United States of America.
Yet for millions, this weekend punctures hearts still longing for loved ones who served in our military, or who are stationed in another part of the world. Our warriors . . . our heros. Young men and women from all walks of life, who have loved and laughed and cried as we do with plans and dreams of their own.
War touches each of us . . . in one way or another. Our nation is split over the wars we are in, but it's not the fault of our warriors. They're only doing what they've been told to do by our government.
A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone, who at one point wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount of "up to and including their life." (Author unknown)
I'm only one of these millions, but my goal is to reach other families in crisis, locked behind closed doors. I want them to know I understand and know what they're going through because I have walked in their shoes. And it's been a long road . . . where happiness was like chasing a cloud.
The effort of memorable art is to evoke in the reader or spectactor emotions appropriate to that effort. Joyce Carol Oates
My book . . . Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, begins on July 3rd, and includes the following excerpt . . . which compelled me to write this blog for today.
July 3, 1990 . . . I felt like I was going mad
. . . I was alone.
Slipping off my shoes, I padded down the hall to my room, trying to ignore the helpless feeling of doom pursuing me. Fear was now my constant companion.
I stopped at the doorway. Across the room, the agitated red light on my answering machine demanded attention. My throat tightened. I knew who called and I knew he was drunk. I wanted to turn and run, but the pulsating red eye dragged me in like a riptide, across the carpet and around the bed. I hesitated at the nightstand then reached out and pushed the playback button.
"Nancy, this is Lorne." His voice was low, barely audible. "If you don't . . . if you don't really care if I live or die . . . why in the hell did you call 911 when I tried to commit suicide? I don't understand."
My heart stopped, I sank to the bed.
"Would you please come to my graveside . . . and tell me . . . goodbye?"
Tears spilled down my cheeks as his pain tore through me.
"Tell me that you . . . that you . . . tell me something! I need to talk to you . . . or you need to talk to me," he begged, his voice quivering. "I will die for you . . . if that's what you want . . . if that's the way I have to get," he paused, "right with you. I will try tomorrow, July fourth . . . to die on the fourth of July for you. If you will just come to my graveside and tell me its okay," he pleaded. "Tell me you love me . . . one . . . last . . . time. Just do that for me . . . "
"BEEP." The machine cut him off.
Lorne's desperate words exploded around me, ricocheting off the delicate green shamrocks in my wallpaper, crashing against my skull. He was my husband, the love of my life, but his drinking was killing him like it destroyed our marriage. He was tettering on the edge and I was powerless to help him.
I buried my face in my hands, tears pooled in my palms as monkey chatter swarmed the corridors of my mind. I pressed my fingertips into my temples, rotating them in a circular motion, trying to make the chatter go away. Some days I felt like I was going mad.
My heart has since healed, but the love we shared lives on. So many are still dealing with these demons of war. My hand, my hope and my heart reach out to each of you on this 4th of July . . . may you find peace.
The answer to my initial question is now out of my hands . . . but I'm not a quitter, and I will move forward.
Lesson learned . . . my two cents
To be a good writer . . . you must tell the truth, no matter how painful. And I now know one thing, telling the truth has a healing power of its own.
Love is the most important word in any language. The second most important word is . . . forgiveness.