Pearl Harbor

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.

What’s your sign, baby?

Lately I’ve been feeling like I need have must do more. I feel grateful for the life I live and know in my heart that there is something missing. The obvious answer is the longing for our family to be together again permanently and not a string of visits from my husband. But I felt compelled to attend a St. Vincent de Paul meeting at our church. Named after the saint who selflessly devoted his entire life to helping the poor, this charity continues his work in his name. I look forward to having our children go through their toys and clothes to donate and realize on their own that this isn’t something we should do but something we MUST do.

At the end of the meeting, we were led in a quiet meditation that brought me to tears but instead of allowing this moment to wash over me I abruptly stopped it.

I don’t know why. Perhaps I felt like I would be perceived as a poser for crying at the first meeting. Or maybe I was embarassed for shedding tears in front strangers.

Most likely, I was in denial that I could be so moved over something so small. Since when is the power of prayer and meditation small? Minimal maybe, but never small.

I needed that moment right there and then. I needed to know that it was possible. If that wasn’t a sign for something I was compelled to do, I don’t know what is.