I’m here for a writers conference, as is my friend R.Y. Swint. She is a veteran of Afghanistan. In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, and of her, I’d like to share a bit of her writing–one of my favorites.
So many events of this past year have taught me that the simple things deserve appreciation more than most others. A good box of Kleenex and some Vicks salve (VapoRub, for you uppity folks) works wonders for my disposition, even though I’m a little under the weather. Has me looking forward to my next sneeze as I listen to music from my childhood on YouTube or my iPod. I hear bits and pieces of my life set to music, as so many people pass through, some fleeting, some lingering.
The Kleenex treat me like the cool side of the pillow. The Vicks comforts me like my grandmother’s hands. The music plays a soundtrack to a life I’d forgotten how to love.
Current plans have me attending the funeral of a fallen comrade and the wedding of a dear friend in the same weekend. And such is how life goes. And as life goes, I find that I’m moving along with it, but only making motions. Watching it more than living it. Observing, listening, appreciating, respecting it, but yet to revisit it. Life. As it goes.
A friend suggests that I might be exhibiting subtle symptoms of PTSD, but I doubt it. It’s natural for folks to worry. I wish they wouldn’t. The monsters don’t come for me every night. Something about the music seems to keep them at bay.
Post deployment indeed has me hovering between perpetual states of mourning and celebration. It’s true that my patience is shorter. My threshold for bullshit is even lower. Self-control is a thin, yet deceptive enough veil over crazy. Grief strikes me at the oddest moments. Tears and dread and angst almost always follow. For life lost, life wasted, lives forced into destinies of struggle and turmoil, and for others who will choose to walk the most difficult, misguided, and ill-advised of paths. And then I smile or laugh in remembrance or anticipation. Or appreciation.
My bathroom is two, maybe three feet away from my bed. My bed is soft and warm. The water in my shower is hot. I just bought new shoes that I have absolutely no plans to wear any time soon. And I no longer write with a rifle on my lap. Simple things.
*Originally posted on Swint’s blog, Write on Time.