Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Scream.

Somewhere deep inside me, waiting to die, is the scream of losing him. After obtaining all the information I could on my husband's incident, I am only more convinced that had things been one millimeter this way or the other, I'd have a quite a different story to tell. There a lot of untold, never-birthed stories, I suppose; he could have faired much better. I do not spend a lot of time on this side of it, but it does live. It's there, with a small pulse if nothing else. There isn't any oxygen to it- just a pulse.

But it's there.

And I am waiting for it to die.

It should have died with the birth of his new life, whenever that moment was. Maybe it was instantaneous, or it happened in surgery. Perhaps it came along later. I am sure though that there was a moment where his life was meant to continue. Call it science or God; luck or blessing. That moment might have cost us something, what we'll never know. But I am so glad, elated, and grateful every single morning I wake up near him that we got that moment. I am so happy, actually, I am more than annoyed that the other moment just didn't pass on right then. The other moment of the scream's release.

Every close family member of a soldier in combat knows this awful scream exists. It holds in the bottom of our throats from the moment their boots hit theater to the instant they're back in our arms. When injury reports come back, it is the lump that rises when we hear of another's misfortune.

And it suffocates you when it's your soldier on the line. It beats you up the most cruel ways: "I'm not coming out, he's not coming home in a box, you get your life!" You're constantly reminded of it by how little it's discussed. You could be drawn to be the drama queen, desperate for that special circumstance (most figure out this isn't what they want at all). Or the family member who can never get past it. Some stay angry. I see that mostly in mothers, but not exclusively. Maybe I'm an angry wife. I honestly don't have much of a scale, because no one really talks about it here. And when we do, we agree with each other.

So this isn't not getting over it. It isn't not letting go. It isn't feeling some perverse urge to focus on death. It just is. And now I'm talking about it.

The scream almost had its chance. It could have; it tried; it definitely got a new resting place. The scream, in the days after the blast but perhaps before the moment of life, sat up at the top of my head. It fogged me, confused. "Not dead- but injured. Never going to be the same again. More surgeries." It felt like everything was happening to me and all I could do was ask someone else to drive. Lean on my friends and family. Forget the way to my battle buddy's house, where women sat waiting to console me, see me, maybe feel better that someone could function enough to see people; that it wasn't going to put me out. And if your friend doesn't go out, you can think- when the scream comes up in your own throat- that it won't. That it can be done and conquered. Evidence of quiet, weak success. But some success nonetheless.

My scream won't die. It gives me nightmares. I'm seeing dead family members and watching mass destruction when I sleep. For months after the fifth injured came through these hospital walls, I dreamt that the whole unit died. It wasn't until about a month before they came home that it stopped. I know this is the scream, lessening its howl of total loss and bleeding out in other ways as it shrinks. At least it is only dreams. The scream itself whimpers in its uselessness. It's losing its zest.

I have screamed over loss. I have lost a parent, family, a best friend. I know the variations of the scream. The war scream is unique- the main difference in the scream reserved for my husband and the others is the element of shock. Rarely do you think about someone's death. War brings out the worst, and there you are: their chances of it have increased. One could calculate the statistics- I am sure someone has. This particular valley; a certain time of year; this job; that sort of mission. Some days bring more promise than others. During WWII, they fed the plane crews better on the type of days that might not bring them a sunset. Their wives didn't know it, though. Their mamas couldn't turn on the TV. I'm not sure if the scream of days gone by was worse than the ones now; I really think they're all the same. Time is a human concept, you know. I doubt the scream has any generational significance other than charting wars.

I just want it to die. I want it to die in some sort of fit of realization that it won't be used. That moment is gone. But there it sits, reminding me occasionally of how close it came. It might have even put on its hat and gathered its things. Maybe it didn't even get off the couch; I'll never know. But the numbers, the information, the facts are all there: the scream was just an inch this way or that from escaping. The bitch, the bastard.

It can sit, though. And wither away from boredom. For the scream, as ugly and violent and brutal as it is, as truthful as it is, as simply sad as it is, still just sits. My dreams may be full of haunting sights, there might be some small moment during the day where I simply bite my lip and look away; but it still just sits. It might not be dead yet, but it drifts a little further away from me each morning, each time I wake to my husband's breathing body. With each kiss, the passing moments of life, I know it dies a little.

And while it isn't dead yet, it's at least getting the idea. And eventually, I am sure, I'll get there and I will know it is gone.

The scream will die. Unlike my husband, who did not die, and therefore not sending any real strangers to tell me that all I loved was lost, but just some soldiers to tell me it was not. It wasn't. It's not. He lived. And now the scream can die. it can accept defeat.


And until then, I'll just keep waking up to him, my husband, and biting my lip and looking away and trying to forget my terrible dreams. I'll keep on with that, and the scream can keep on with dying.

And that's truth.


  1. Wishing you sweet dreams my dearest Kathleen.

  2. At a loss for words. Have never touched on this pain.I can only hope for joy and love. You both deserve it.

  3. I don't know what to say. I want to say what a beautiful, well written story, but that doesn't seem appropriate. Our cousin is a WIA Marine. Your words just opened a window to the whole picture of all those who have a loved one serving. Thank you for sharing.

  4. What a thought-provoking, honest post.

  5. This is an amazing piece of writing and an amazing window into... so much.

  6. This is a beautifully written and raw piece of thought. I'm glad you have shared this, though it is a hard reflection.