"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
We all have a great capacity for loss.
mil-i-tary Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French militaire, from Latin militaris, from milit-, miles soldier
Date: 15th century
1 : of or relating to soldiers, arms, or war
2 : Where some are called to give their supreme sacrifice on a moments notice.
I was about eleven or twelve years old when the soldiers came to Frank and Mark's house.
Frank and Mark were two of my best friends. Frank was a year older than I was and Mark a year younger. They had a kid sister named Kim (who turned out to be a real looker) but she was too young to play with us. I went over to Frank and Mark's house almost every day.
Their dad was in the military, serving in Vietnam. He flew Huey Cobra's, and we all thought that was really cool. Every so often he would come home on leave but we never saw all that much of him, or at least I didn't. He was a good friend of my father's, and had been for a long time, but he always struck me as firm and sort of gruff. He did not laugh much and his kids obeyed him to the letter all the time.
One day I went over to their house and things had forever changed. There were strange cars parked in the driveway. I knocked on the garage door, and Frank came to the door crying. I had never seen Frank cry.
"My dad's been shot down and they don't know what happened to him," Frank said with tears pouring from his eyes. A rocket had hit his father's chopper. He was missing in action.
I had no idea what to say, I never do in those circumstances. Your friend is in deep pain and you want to help but there is just nothing you can do, so you just sit and feel their pain with them. And that's what I did.
I think it was about two hours later when word came that they had found him and rescued him, but he was seriously injured and details were scarce.
I can't remember exactly when it was that we found out they had to amputate both of his legs.
Frank and Mark's dad returned home permanently not long after that. I remember him sitting in his wheelchair, still very serious, with kind of a dark cloud over his mood. I can imagine he would feel like that. Of course, at my age at the time, I had no idea that he was going through what must have been a tremendously intense period of soul searching. He was lucky, his family loved him. Not all vets were so lucky.
Not long after that he got his artificial legs. With a cane he could walk almost regular, and the more he did it the more regular it got. He began to smile sometimes. Every day he found more courage within himself to muster up whatever he needed to go forward in what must surely have many times seemed hopeless.
Frank and Mark's dad made as much of a full recovery as could be expected. He opened up a printing shop and did well for himself until the day he died. His family loved him dearly all the days of his life because they knew what it was like to lose him. And he never let his disability rule over his life, he met the challenge and overcame it.
It would never have occurred to him to do otherwise.