Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Over at Peterson Toscano's blog, he has a a post on the power and vulnerability of sharing stories. His post specifically addresses the situation of people who have gone through ex-gay programs, but it spoke to the vulnerability I have sometimes felt as I posted some of the most difficult moments of the last year.

Recently, another regular reader wrote to me that my descriptions had taken her on an emotional journey as she followed my posts on the day-to-day waiting through my dad's deployment. And I found myself glad that I could share the deep tenderness and vulnerability of the wait, the fear, the fierce gladness of occasional contacts, the sadness and worry of hearing each time of another death, the heartsickness of not knowing, and the necessity of "sucking up and soldiering on."

I can remember wandering around a farm market in PA this February, clutching a cell phone, wondering whether I was really there or just some kind of wandering spirit, lost among the colorful quilts and hothoused produce... Dad's voice had a 5-second lag, as it was transmitted from him to a satellite to the phone in my hand, and I could hear that the concept of "home" didn't seem to mean much to him. He asked for descriptions of the market, and told me about the anguish of not being able to carry out a soldier's body, despite the requests of the rest of the troop, because it would have robbed precious seconds from his just barely living comrade, and possibly endangered the rescue mission.

But the one thing not in Iraq that did seem real to him was the blanket I'd made. He wanted to hear the names of every single person who had worked on it, the colors, the stitches. So, there I was, feeling like my spirit wasn't in the room, but was trying to be transmitted by sattelite, trying to give him the life, the calmness of the farm market, that seemed just out of reach for me, as well.

I want people to understand the costs of this war, not just intellectually, but with the wrench in the gut, the pure misery of that half hour, the sorrow of watching my dad flinch when a hummer drove past the restaurant we were eating in last summer, or hearing how he dropped to the floor, rolling under a desk when the heating system in his office kicked in, just before he was deployed again.

And I know that some of what I write can't be easy to read. Most Americans, it feels like, don't want to really understand what we're paying. As I was hearing my mom tell me that my dad had landed in Kuwait, I could also hear a couple of my coworkers discussing the latest "American Idol" and that also felt unreal. Is there really a world where my mom and I are sharing that heartfelt relief while someone else is discussing this total irrelevancy? Or is it that mine is the irrelevancy?

Over the weekend, Cindy Sheehan declared herself to be burnt out, and I really am not surprised. It's hard to even share my story, and hers... well, carrying on with only a small blog and a living soldier is hard enough for me. Dealing with the death of her son in the full glare of the spotlight must have been... oy.

But I do not agree with her analysis that this is it. I believe that her exhaustion and grief have led her to despair, but that only makes it more important for other stories to come forward, for people to understand that it's not just one story, it's all the stories. It's the story of thousands of families like mine, living with grinding fear. It's the story of every single soldier who has died in this conflict. It is the story of every single soldier who has returned wounded in body or soul. It is the story of every single Iraqi. Period. It is the story of what we could do, if we used the resources of this country properly rather than for personal enrichment at the cost of blood. It is the fact that every single military family, every Iraqi, every American has been sold for thirty pieces of silver, and it is a story that needs to be told.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your powerful testimony here reminds us not to keep silent. There is time to keep words hidden and a time to speak them like cymbals crashing. 30 pieces of silver is brilliant.

5/30/2007 11:55 AM  
Blogger Don said...

I am extremely grateful for all you have written about over the past year. Your's is a story that needs to be told over and over and G-d has given you the gift to share that story. It is a story that everyone with someone in Iraq needs to tell but can't. You are not living your life for you alone but for countless others who have been, will be going or like me are consumed with prayer, sometimes despair, but a glimmer of hope that something very positive can come from this anguish of so many both American and Iraqi.

5/30/2007 4:39 PM  

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