Many parts of being a family member of someone lost in war is trying to live in the everyday world of those who go about their daily lives without the cares or woes that losing a son in this way brings. The day that Micheal was killed that day, I was sentenced to life in a sort of prison. I’ve thought many times about this and how to explain it. There are no bars on this prison, I do not wear one of those striped prison outfits and the only chains and binds that I wear are completely invisible to the outside world. They are not there to be felt or drug along by anyone but those who are sentenced to this prison. To the outside world, they just see me. Some days they do see or sense that I’m a bit more burdened but since everyone can get a bit down and out, they pass this off as normal most of the time.
To those outside the walls of the prison, they do not know the feelings of despair that this sentence has brought to me. They occasionally visit the prison on special days or events to share the load occasionally or for a few hours on those days. After the visit, it’s right back into the cell and a sort of solitary. It IS a type of solitary; we can be in a room full of people and still be completely alone. There has been only a few times where I was in the cell with a cell mate for a while. To be with someone who is sharing the same sentence is sometimes helpful because it is at that time when you do not feel truly alone in the world and not selfish or abnormal for not being the same old you before your life was forever changed.
I am sentenced to forever see others enjoying their lives and sometimes feel the stinging guilt of being a bit angry at the world for going on. From military events, homecomings to holidays and birthdays, the happiness for others sometimes gets a bit of a bitter taste that can ruin a perfectly good mouthful of cake or sip of spirit. The feelings are fleeting and I am so happy for these families it’s hard to describe sometimes. Being around euphoric happy people getting what they deserve when their hopes and prayers are answered is sometimes just not easy and I have to select sometimes carefully which I can attend and share and when I will have to bow out of early or even not attend in the first place.
I am sentenced to this place to walk the same halls, occupy the same places and do the same things and to basically haunt the world of the normal living, breathing world. I live in a world where my son dies every day and sometimes even several times a day. I see the uniforms of the faceless men who came to my home, I see the flag draped casket, I see the faces of the family and friends, and I hear the crack of the 21-gun salute. I am sentenced to a place in the country that I’ve never been overly fond of in any real way. I am now forced to stay here probably forever, because this place is where Micheal will be forever. The grave is a few minutes away. I do not go there often, but it is always there in my mind and is part of the burden. I could not leave this place, because leaving here, would be leaving him. There’s probably someone who would call that crazy and it probably is to an extent.