From "The Abyss"

“From the first time a comrade drops like a sack of potatoes and never gets up, to the first time you watch a bullet from your rifle tear into the body of another, spreading flesh and bone over a narrow arc, any glory that might have been associated with being a warrior vanishes. There is no glory. There is only a lifelong regret and a wish that things had been different. I know now that those who preceded me wished that they were the last generation to ever have to go to war. Their hope was that the human condition could change and war could be made obsolete. That was my hope too. It was not to be. We have sent yet another generation of young men and women off to become permanently scarred with first-hand knowledge of war. In time they will return and those who have had to experience the worst war has to offer will pay heavily. They will experience the dismissal of their difficulty to deal with the turmoil in their minds and the humiliation of having to try to beat back depression, anxiety and a simmering anger. They will look into the abyss and, as a so-called enlightened society looks on knowing nothing of what agony exists in their minds, wonder what lies at the bottom.”

And so, here it is. My worst nightmare, so devastatingly and eloquently stated in another’s blog that I stumbled upon. It has been easy for me to push away my fear of Clay being sent into combat, now that he’s back. His first deployment was to a safe, non-desert location. Although I fixated on all sorts of worst-case scenarios while he was gone, the truth was that he had little chance of getting sent into the lion’s den. But he still has a year left in his current deployment cycle.

If he gets sent into combat, will he come home to me in one piece? Will he be haunted by the atrocities of war? Will he see – in his mind’s eye – unimaginable horrors for the rest of his life, or will he do whatever it takes to blot them out? How will I take care of him if he is maimed physically or mentally? And how will I ever recover if he is lost? His love alone saved me from the darkest depths of despair and provided me the security to develop into a fully functioning, fully realized human being. Again he is asleep next to me, unaware of my tears.

What does indeed lie at the bottom of the abyss? I pray he never finds out.

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One More is Too Many

NBC just reported that 12,ooo more National Guard troops are to be sent to Iraq. As I watched the video I started to tear up a bit. Now I’m just a bit numb. I know better than to automatically assume that Clay will be one of them going over. It’s just that it has all taken on a different dimension, you know? I don’t just see a man or woman in a uniform heading for the desert any more. I now see that person, their family, their friends, coworkers, acquaintances… Like everyone who asked me “Is Clay back yet?” with that wrinkled-forehead look of concern when he was deployed. And then I multiply that by 12,000. TWELVE THOUSAND.

Clay’s already in bed. Sound asleep. Snoring softly. He hasn’t heard this news yet. Will he wonder why I’m holding him a little tighter tonight?