Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Thought of War

And then, suddenly, the news becomes your obsession.

The roadside bombs, the body counts — these things cease to be passing blurbs (background noise to a busy day). Rather, they become the silhouette of a man who — often, when a boy — took his little sister out at midnight in search of night crawlers (bait for the next day's fishing trip).

Of the man who — once, when in high school — took a screaming, crying mouse (caught in a glue trap) out behind the house and told his parents (despite being a hunter) to never use those again.

[And then tried to comfort his sisters by claiming he was able to set the struggling creature free.]

Of a soldier who — often, when in Afghanistan — grew bored with base life and volunteered his time at a village hospital (himself trained in emergency medical care).

Of a father who — with one five-year-old son and one step-daughter — will be oceans away when his twins (four months in the making) are born.

"I wish I wasn't doing convoy security," he says. "I don't want to get blown up."

Everyone gets quiet. You chuckle to break the silence.

"Yeah, um," you begin. "Try to not do that."

And you know it's unlikely. You know that most of the men and women who serve in Iraq come home safe.

But then again: you also know that many of them don't. But you try to not think about that, telling him goodbye.

Instead, you take that eerie, macabre fear — the understanding that when you send a man away to war, your goodbye could very well be your last — and shove it to the back of your head.

"So, listen, I'll see you later," you say.

"Yeah," he says.

"See you later."


Stacy said...

Oh Sh*t! My prayers are with you and your family and those beautiful men who are your brother.Does this mean you saw him over Christmas?

Jonas said...

Very powerful...and moving.

M@ said...

I hope so.

You make me feel better I wasn't nicer to my little sister when I was younger. :(

ds said...

well, damn. I guess I have to take back all the things I said about the report he drafted up for my accident. Anybody could have written down the wrong roads and taken three weeks to do it. Anybody.

Sorry - that's probably not funny. He seems like a pretty good guy. Most older brothers are. thank God I'm not one.

Hoping all goes as well as it can.

Woodrow said...

"You can be patriotic and still believe that some things cost more than what they're worth."

I despise glue traps too.

Pamela said...

You did a wonderful job writing this

XOXO said...

I know it's only a matter of time before my brother inlaw is shipped off again. Not sure how many tours he's done. It's so scary. Whatever you need let me know.

DS-get over it.

=) said...

I would venture to guess that knowing your brother (like my dear chief), he is going because it is something he loves.

And we love him for going.

Whether we support the war or their boss, I think we can all agree that it is SO important to support our military personnel.