July 27, 2012

Name: Mike T.
Returned from: Afghanistan
Milblog: c/o bouhammer.com

I race to the door before the storm hits, the chance to steal a second of the moment when that rain scent ignites the air, to feel the cool breeze that sends a small chill through your soul. I stand, staring into the ridgeline as the clouds gather in mass and the blistering sun seems helpless and retreats for a sparing moment. And then one by one they multiply; the sweet rain drops begin to fall. I just linger there in the safety of the porch's cover, thinking in silence until it is broken by laughter.

The culprits; my beautiful wife and son playing in the living room. I peek through the open window just to watch and listen in amazement. They have become the brightest of my colors, stopping the beating of my heart at times. They fill my soul with compassion and tenderness but even more, strength. As I turn back to admire the storm I can’t help myself; I have an overwhelming feeling of relief.

I have an amazing family that loves and cares for me so much, and for this life to come full circle is a blessing. I have finally made it to where I value the quiet bliss of holding my son while in the rocking chair, feeling his subtle heartbeat against my chest or playing lion, where we rub noses together and laugh. I revel in watching my wife move about the house while singing her favorite country songs,and holding her and simply saying “I love you."  She takes my pain away and eases my fears. For all her beauty and compassion, I find it is her forgiving eyes that consume me the most.

As I look east of the property I gleefully watch the lavender suckles succumb to the heavy rain. As it falls, it relinquishes its scent overpowering its predecessor, the rain. Still the laughter continues through the open window. I hear the music in my head. These are the lyrics that have kept me remembering the very best of this life. Some say the best is yet to come; for me the best has arrived.

For the war I know is over. I have come to terms with my little piece of it. I have taken ownership of my version of PTSD. Part of me believes that I will never recover from it, nor should I. Someone once said “You can never truly heal from anything," and I am fine with that. I think that will be a constant reminder for me to always appreciate what I have and continue on for those who didn’t come back home.

I slowly shift my weight and begin making my way to the door, following the pleasant sounds of laughter and small screeches, my son’s version of talking to us. I think to myself; I should laugh more, cry more, love with compassion, dance and sing more, bite my tongue a bit more and remember how this life is what I fought for. More...

This is for my wife and son, as you have given me life, joy, happiness, a sense of purpose. But most importantly you have shown me new colors, and they are so bright. I thank you.

Love, Michael.


Editor's note: The Sandbox will be on vacation until the week of August 20th.


Thanks for this. A different way to carry PTSD. You'll never know all you've helped with this lovely post.

family life is beautiful it makes you remember what life is all about despite the struggles in this life your family will allways be there for you so treat and appreciate them right for once they are gone thats it

Thanks for sharing your PTSD experience,may God continue to bless and keep you.I can relate because of my own PTSD.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
Sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,
That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... An American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Good article, thanks for sharing your experience. Hope all goes well....

This is a pleasant reenactment of life and the beauties that follow it that every day we take for granted and we shouldn't. So thank you for helping us appreciate the simple things in life. Regards Steve

You have a great experience as a soldier. Thanks for sharing with us.

This was amazing to read. I tugged on my emotions 100%. I love your outlook on life and I hope you never lose that focus. Praying that you continue to enjoy every aspect of your life, even the rain showers!

Your story was absolutely amazing. It is wonderful to hear how family and love actually pulled you through your dark times. You give everyone else that is suffering with the same kind of problems comfort and hope. Thank you so much for your service and your wonderful story.

Dear Micheal, I appreciate you sharing. First let me tell you that you are on the right track. Life is beautiful. True, you may never let go of the horror completely, but you are a stronger Man for all you have overcome and conquered. I realize you don't know me, but please trust when I say you are appreciated...by your country and your lovely family. I am the Daughter of a Disabled Vietnam Veteran; I can relat. You are a blessing. My heart is with you and your family. Stay strong and true...Sincerely, Tina

You are such a fighter! I wish I could be like. However you have done your part well hope you will continue your journey to the next level...!!!

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