The anniversary of Pearl Harbor is tomorrow. Tonight I turned the channel to the film version that starred Ben Affleck and Kate Beckingsale. R took me to see that movie in the theaters in Georgia when we were newlyweds.
That night the theater was full of soldiers from Fort Gordon, young men whose backpacks carried sounds of clanging glass bottles. I would have ventured to say that many knew their American history, perhaps even a grandfather or family friend stationed over in Hawaii at the time, and despite the impending imbibing, the crowd was respectful. Somber. Attentive.
Tonight my tv was tuned into the film no more than thirty seconds. The scene where the nurses had to quickly assess wounded soldiers was on screen. That scene brought me back to last year and every terrible scene in my life since then.
I was brought back to a state of shock at National Naval Medical Center, waiting on pins and needles for that goddamned plane to land and then that goddamned bus to get to the hospital.
They warned me too. They chose their word carefully. “Intense”, they said.
I was brought back to ICU where I passed a dozen injured sailors. Even though I averted my eyes, willed myself to stare at the linoleum until the officer told me we had arrived, I could still hear them.
Moans of pain. Haunting sobbing. Cries of help for a nurse. Long and short beeps from numerous machines. All echoing up and down the halls.
Despite silence from staff on that floor, the noise was deafening.
Thank God R remembers very little. Of what he does remember has been transformed into bits and pieces of nightmares and hallucinations.
They have entered my nightmares as well. I admit I am afraid of falling asleep tonight which is just as well, whenever my mind unconsciously peers through memories I intentionally suppress I know I can say bye to a good night’s rest.
I cannot even begin to understand what the men, women, and children of Pearl Harbor saw and heard that day. For those who perished, for the survivors and their loved ones, I say a prayer and bid them a good night’s rest.