Monday, April 16, 2012

The Executioner

The following, is I guess what you would call the prelude to my previous post. This is my story, how it happened, or at least how I remember it. Much of what happened is to this day a bit fuzzy to me, my subconscious protecting me I guess. I don't know what prompted me to write this, I've been toying with the idea of writing something, and this would be the hardest part to put to page so best to get that done with. Anyway here goes.

This tale starts in the dusty, impossibly hot, choking atmosphere of the cab of a 7-ton wrecker driving down a war torn road in Iraq.
The only sound is the roar of the engine, straining to maintain speed with the Humvee in front of you. There is no talking, you are far too tired for talking. Are you in the first stages of exhaustion, or the final, or somewhere in the middle... it doesn't matter, you are tired, damn tired.
Visibility is next to nothing courtesy of all the dust in the air. The dust merely swirls around the windshield forming an impenetrable brown fog. The only sense of direction comes from the two glowing taillights of the truck in front, like two red eyes peering out from the dust they guide you onward.
The lights veer suddenly to the right, following it becomes clear that a large section of the path has been blown out by an IED, or improvised explosive device also known as a roadside bomb. The wind then picks up momentarily blowing much of the dust aside, clearing the air and increasing the visibility just long enough to see... him, or was it her... a child waving, close to where the vehicle is passing, too close. Were they hit, there is no way to know, and the orders dictate to not stop, keep moving, always keep moving, a stopped vehicle is a target, keep moving.
Finally the convoy reaches your stop, a truck to hook up next to a ravine. You get out to start the process of the recovery, while the convoy continues on, they will pick you back up on the return trip. Once down from the truck a sound enters your ears, a sound that causes your heart to sink in your chest and almost cease to beat, that sound... soft but audible whimpering.
Every fiber in your being is crying out to just get back in the truck and refuse to acknowledge the potential devastation. By sheer willpower you start to look under the wrecker, the first glimpse tells the story.
There is blood, so much blood, such an impossible amount, and there underneath caught up in some recovery chains... is the child, ravaged from being drug across the ground for the past several miles. Shock, horror, loathing, disgust, terror, guilt, shame, pain... there is no word that can encompass the surge of emotion that overtakes you as you slowly free what is left of the child from the mess.
You then become aware of the other presence, your a-driver, the other guy with you in the truck gasping for air, on the point of vomiting standing nearby. Looking into the child's eyes you know there is only one thing to be done, you lay them down on the dirt, reach for your rifle, and pull the trigger. As the bullet reaches its target you feel yourself dying, that part of you that is your humanity, that is your soul, that is your emotional connection to this world dies on that dirt road along with that child.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It's always harder when I am tired, and I am very tired today.

Dealing that is, coping with the demons of my past, or in more clinical terms the causes of my PTSD. I guess it is a combination of stress, exhaustion, and a train of thought that my wife found herself on recently. She had discovered that someone she knew from long ago had suffered a terrible blow and is now mostly incapacitated. This has my wife questioning why something like that happened to that person yet she herself is more than fully functional. Questioning God in a sense too I suppose.

That can be a dangerous train to ride on.
I have found myself there more than once. Why is it that I am worthy of having such a wonderful and loving family. Most of all though, why am I worthy of being the father of such a beautiful, sweet, and adorable daughter. I, who extinguished the flame of life in someone else's beloved child. People have told me that things like that are unavoidable in combat, and that it wasn't really my fault, and that pulling that trigger was an act of mercy. Regardless of all that, it was by my hand that child lost their life. Whether it was my hand on the steering wheel or my hand on the trigger, it doesn't matter.

So why?

Why has God blessed me the way he has?

The beginnings of an idea began to form in my head today. The stirrings of something that seems to fit. God doesn't want me to feel shame, pain, guilt and regret when I look at my daughter... He wants me to see a chance. A chance to fully recover from that nightmare. It's as though he is saying to me "yes, you feel responsible for ending that young life in what you deem far to soon, but I want you to feel a different responsibility, here is a child directly in your care, here is a soul that needs your love, so you hold tight and love her with everything you have".

Is it a way of making amends?

I don't know. All I know is that when I hear her say "Daddy I love you" it cuts straight through to a place that I used to think had died back on a dusty, war torn road in Iraq. Sometimes she'll ask me to pick her up by saying "Daddy, hold you?" I used to think she had it backwards and really wanted me to hold her, now I think maybe she has it right.

She is definitely holding me