The silent struggle of a soldiers daughter
The sounds of summer are coalescing around me. They have always felt the same to me. Hot and oppressive, full of shouting and sorrow, fear.
Truth. Summer has always been a time of truth. Things come to light, unboxed after a long, cold winter. The winters are my refuge, my haven. Summer fills me with hate.
I love the soft sounds of the birds, their brave little songs, their certain movements. They have a job, a purpose. They are honest. I hide myself away in places that no one follows. I have my own form of their bravery, just a little quieter.
Summer comes and things are expected of you. Get up, be useful. But summer clouds my mind, to me it is darker than the darkest of winter storms.
Summer was when my dad was home.
How do you contend with it? An honest, kind soul who loves unconditionally, who can not physically tell a lie? How do you grasp that fear, waiting for the flip, turning his face into something unrecognizable, twisted? Truth.
It is glorified. Men of war. They are honored. They should be, but they sure as hell hurt. Stuck in the past, refusing to move forward. Where does it end? The movies turn it into entertainment, the things they do. I can't watch them anymore, knowing they are truth, that they destroy families, knowing that they tear a soul down, ripping it to shreds.
Never say its cool. It isn't. It is brave and honorable. But it isn't cool. Can they even tell where the line is. A child makes a mistake and suddenly everyone is broken, sorrow surrounding a peaceful farm. Truth.
He doesn't even remember. He can't, because it isn't him. I know that. They know that. But it still builds, the anger and resentment. And he sowly watches a family he loves with all his being, slip away from him. Like a figure drifting to far in the mist, losing themselves to the disorientating grey.
He takes it all. The cutting remarks, the unkind words, he says nothing. he believes it is his penance.
When is it right to forgive, and when is it right to not? I believe I have to forgive, because when you see his smile, the mischievous glint in his eyes, you realize that that 15 year old boy who went to war for seventeen years, is still there. Because he never had the chance to be a boy, thrust into a world of hurt and death, strength and brutality.
How do you come back from that? Being the best of the best, the elite of the elite. Now just a man, who has a small hobby farm somewhere in Canada? A British soldier, now a grandfather and a simple handy man. Closer to seventy that sixty, but still looks like he is forty-nine.
But how do I? Are you ever enough, will you ever accomplish half so much? How do you contend with it, having more and more expected of you? When you are barely sixteen and you feel you have to prove to everyone you are perfect, strong and powerful, a hard worker, full of life? When you reach your twenties and everything you thought you were going to do with your life changes, you wonder if you are dying or if everyone feels like this. Will you ever measure up, when a fear of not being perfect has turned into a fear of leaving the house?
How do you move on when your father is a military man, when you are terrified of conflict, afraid of failing, never measuring up?
You keep going, you keep smiling and crying, laughing and screaming. You keep trying. You get up again and again, because your father taught you that, no matter what, you are as strong as any warrior, as any soldier. You have faced and done as much as any boy who enters the army at fifteen. Just differently.
You forgive, because there is such freedom in forgiving, in letting go. When you do, maybe summer won't seem to bad, maybe the sounds of the late spring frogs won't fill you with dread and hate.
When you let go, maybe the beckoning waves become beautiful and enticing and life is suddenly so worth living, that it is all you can do not to smile?
You can be gentle, you can be fierce. You can be so many things at once, you are enough.