Today is Thanksgiving and I felt I needed to sit down and write out all of the feeling and emotion that have seemed to plague me all day. I find myself in a distant land surrounded by these dusty mountains that hedge in my soul. I cannot help but think of you and the children on this day, this day we will not be together. I hold you close to me, in here where it’s safe and no harm can come to you. By now I have almost gotten used to the sporadic gunfire, explosions and other unmentionable acts that play out in war.
Sometimes I feel like a maraca. You know the thing you shake and the beads make a rattling noise. Only, the maraca is me. And the noise inside comes from my heart and soul that have shrunk and now dance round aimlessly without you and the children to anchor them down. How hollow I’ am. I had been able, up till now, to keep so busy as to not have the time to think to deeply or reminisce for in that, resides the path to my madness.
We had a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings but in the midst of the meal all I could think about was you and how there would be an empty chair at our table at home. How could I have thought this such a noble cause as to put my family through such pain? Who am I to make you suffer so? By what right do I deal out this empty hand with hollow promises?
The Colonel gave a simple prayer for the meal and we sat down and ate but all I could see was that empty chair, that pause in the conversation that should be answered by me, and I heard the laughter of our kids. In my minds eye I’m there with you now watching over all of you. I believe we all make the choices that guide and determine the events in our lives. How we have arrived here in this place sometimes still stymies me, although it is all of my own volition.
As I was eating I was thinking of my own prayer—and it goes like this. I see myself at the head of the table and I close my eyes and when I open them I say “I know there is a God, for you are all still here and this is not just another dream or momentary flight of fancy during the lull of the mission where I’m jerked back to reality by the sound of gunfire.”
Earlier in the day in had overheard one of the others talking to the Terps and trying to explain Thanksgiving to them. It really didn’t register then to me cause I kinda gave their holiday, Ramadan a sort of blow off and was too engaged to give it much thought. Then during the meal Fawad came by me and said “Happy Giving thanks” and it surprised me so. He caught me with my shields down and I didn’t know what to say. Here is a young man, about twenty, who is taking all the same risks we are and perhaps more. For they are looked upon as traitors to the enemy and we have received night letters that have stated they are actively trying to kill Terps [and have] who work with the Americans.
Thanksgiving—I guess I never had the right moment to try and decide what this meant. Is it thanks for all the gifts we have received? Whether by luck, trade, theft, hard work, peril or enjoyment? Is it the moments we harbor the notion that we are more than the sum total of our parts? More than the physical or emotional? Or do we dive right into the higher philosophical desires of the mind?
War does give one time to ponder the more simpler questions that seem to be the hardest to answer. It is hard work to lay bare the soul and look unafraid into the mirror. To judge so harshly the life one has led and to be responsible for ALL that has occurred. Therein lies the truest sort of self deprecation. The same test of the metal of the man that has transcended time eternal.
Yet here is where I make my stand, like a willow in a windstorm. Free to make those choices-and be damned for them all the same. Know then, that you are never far from me and the lifeline you provide is the only salvation I need.
I love you….Always