I wrote a blog for the first 3 months I was in Iraq (I called it 48 Mondays due to the amount of time I would be deployed) It was cathartic and exactly what I needed. I stopped writing just after Christmas as I used so much emotional energy just to get through the Holidays that I didn’t really have it in me to keep it up. I regret that. I should have written about the pain, the sorrow and the seemingly bottomless pit of despair I felt realizing that I still had 9 months to go.
I got this from my “Memories” section on Facebook, and I was too busy flirting with all my newfound readers to really pay attention to it (It was the day my marriage article EXPLODED). When I saw it again today, I was struck by the reality of Memorial Day in a whole new way. This soldier didn’t die, so by the grace of God it is not her Memorial Day, but I happen to know that she’s deployed again and I don’t know how many Mondays are left this time, but I am struck with all the waiting.
- Waiting to know if she’s coming home safely.
- Wondering if she’s in danger, and if so, how much?
- Waffling between whether I’d want to know.
- Knowing she couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me, anyway… Partly because of confidentiality in the military, and partly because I made a huge mistake that ended our friendship permanently, but it doesn’t stop the worry altogether. There will never be a time in my life when I don’t know her, and she doesn’t know me.
Struck by how real and vulnerable she was in typing that on my Facebook page in the first place, and regretting that I didn’t answer it quickly, because this is as real as it gets… as it will ever get in terms of seeing into the mind of someone who knows the pain of being overseas in a place where her family is safe at home and she’s stuck in some shithole in the Middle East while life goes on without her. Another re-integration. Another putting down of the luggage and hopefully the memories they contain, because I would imagine that it’s not the deployment itself that’s the problem. It’s everything that goes with the deployment.
I’d like to imagine that her rank makes her safe in a SCIF somewhere, in the planning and execution rather than on the front lines, but that is just a guess to make me feel better, when the reality might be quite different. But we as supporters of soldiers make all kinds of shit up in our heads to try and make ourselves feel better. You know, so we can sit here and have hot dogs on our day off because soldiers give us that right.
The truth is that what we see are the illusions of news, and not the reality of being the boots on the ground. It is more that we can imagine, more than we can reasonably wrap our brains around, more than we can process at any given time… which is why there’s a reason that the reality isn’t shown. It’s terrifying, viscerally so.
Although if you’re really interested, don’t watch American news. Watch the BBC or Al Jazeera. It will scare the bejesus out of you, but it is more than the American media are willing to part with as not to panic the American people. The American media “protects us.” But it is to our detriment. In order to celebrate Memorial Day, we need to focus on what really matters. Disarming IEDs in the middle of the road. Snipers on both sides of the equation and soldiers caught in the crossfire. And here I sit, drinking a cherry Diet Dr Pepper, staring at the screen while our soldiers give me the right to just sit here without worrying what’s going to happen to me, but it doesn’t do jack or shit to stop me from worrying about what’s going to happen to them.
The best I can hope for is that intelligence on the ground from friendlies will give us enough information to stop attacks before they happen… their own Claire Fraser (Outlander series) who knew which way the British were coming for the Scottish. Because of time travel, she wasn’t a spy. She’d read what happened in a lot of the battles and when she fell through the stones in Scotland and ended up 200 years and some change from the present day, passed on the little she knew from history books. But it is not the same. How do you know if you’ve really turned someone into a friendly? How do you know that the information they’re passing is correct? How do you know that they are helping you prevent an attack instead of leading you into the middle of the fire?
You just hope you got the right information at the right time, and that it’s actually usable. Otherwise, you could end up kicking in doors and instead of finding the right HVT, it’s just a woman armed to the teeth with explosives, ready to blow up three city blocks without even thinking about it.
And this is where my mind goes as we “celebrate” Memorial Day.
Good luck and godspeed to all of their Mondays, and the Mondays after that.