Thursday, April 8, 2010

730. Who Among Us is Well?

I wonder who among the thousands of men and women I’ve served with as brothers and sisters in combat is doing well today.

Did the PFC I served with in Kuwait, who used to have manic anxiety in our underground bunker during SCUD attacks, return home as a happy woman? Does she think about the time where we sang “Lean on Me” in our bunker after the surprise missile attack that started the war? Does she have kids and a job? Can her significant other understand why she sometimes can’t sleep (the missiles always came at night)?

Has my red-headed brother (I call him that because we looked so alike back then that this is how people referred to us, as “brothers”) had his hearing repaired from the explosion? Is there a ringing still that tortures him? I wonder if he can have his brain scraped of the images of the dead bodies he processed during his second tour as mortuary affairs.

I saw my senior drill instructor from boot camp on the Syrian border area of Iraq. He was in charge of a logistics convoy where two Marines had just died. Have you ever seen the broken face of the man who taught you how to be hard? Does this gunnery sergeant still wear that vacant look in dark rooms at the end of the day? Does he wear it over an open bottle in a bar?

I served with one of my best friends from youth in Iraq. I have a photo of the first time we encountered each other overseas: a polaroid of him chewing dip and half-smiling on a guard tower. That tower is destroyed now; three vehicle-borne suicide bombers made sure of that one year after our tour had ended. I have not seen my friend in over five years. When we saw each other then, all he saw was Iraq. I don’t like to think about him anymore. It’s easier for me to just think he’s gone.

Who among us is well?

How can we get back to the place before?

People tell me that they think I’m fine. But how can they really tell?

There are secret burdens that you will never see.

Who among us is well?

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2010. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

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