The part of you they take with them, that hollowed out spot in your chest, that sting and numbness and dazed acceptance — it’s still there, still fresh, still real. It is never not a part of you…ever again. We are changed by each death. Even though life is given again in the next lifetime, each death claims a piece of our soul. Our energy, our sense of wholeness. Us. We are never the same.
We ache for them. Logic and reason and platitudes designed to comfort, don’t. We hold on to the part of us that believes they should still be here. That their lives were taken way too early. We hold on knowing that there was nothing more we could have done and feeling that there had to be. We long for comfort and meaning and purpose to somehow make their absence a bit easier. It doesn’t. Not really. There is a hole in us where their lives held space, their love and energy and life force met ours and became part of us. And now, the part of us they filled is empty.
We miss them. Every day. In some moments, missing them overtakes us. We drink and we cry. We stare off into space and we remember. We are, in reality, inconsolable. Deep fiery pits of human fury and grief and pain numbed down to an acceptable level of brokenness that lets the world feel protected from our truth. From the truth. War hurts.
The heartbrokenness swallows us — entire hours, days, weeks, months, years — swirl around while we are lost in that moment. That moment that changed everything. The moment we were left alive and they were not.
Why? We shudder and gasp and grasp and sink into the deafening silence. Some of us stare at a pistol in our hands. Some of us hug our kids tighter. Some of us decide to live with everything we’ve got and then some.
I’m supposed to comfort you. To offer words that ease the pain, give you a bit more room to breath, let you lean on my strong shoulder, collapse into my embrace. Don’t get me wrong. I hold you. Always.
But words feel too weak to bring solace. Grief too constant of a companion. I sit here with you in silence, staring off into space — clasp your hand and swallow hard. We let the tears fall until we are too numb to move.
I know what we will do. Get through this day, another day, another night, and keep searching for hope and meaning and purpose to make sense of why we are still here. We will find our courage and our grit, our tenacity and our resolution and we will rise and fight. For life. For each other. We will honor our dead and make damn sure their lives matter. We will dry our tears, lift our heads, and refuse to let Death defeat us.
We will remember that we are warriors. Battle scarred and broken and laden with grief. Alive. Breathing. Called to keep going. We will fight for ourselves, our children, our lovers, our brothers and sisters.
It’s who we are. Who warriors have always been.
4 thoughts on “This Memorial Day…”
Thank you, Pam! So grateful for you and Karen!!
Thank you, Jeff…
Thank you so much for posting this and the work you do. We work primarily with veterans and often direct them your way for insight.
Oh my goodness! Touched