Friday, Mar. 14, 2003
Dear Diary:

I've heard the American president say several times now that he has no problem sleeping at night. I envy him that peace of mind because in the last few weeks I have been having more and more trouble sleeping as I become more and more sad.

It's stupid, really. I mean, in practical terms this war will not touch my life. I'm not American, nor am I Iraqi, so I don't have a direct stake in what will happen. Even though I live close to the Vermont border, I don't even know anyone who is going to be part of this war from the American side.

But it's getting harder to sleep.

We've paid a terrible price in my family for war. With us it wasn't about death, it was about maiming. There are many ways to be maimed, and not all of them are visible to the eye.

My grandfather was by all accounts a funny, gentle, outgoing farm boy when he left for war. He came back from WWI a decorated hero, bearer of the Military Medal for leaving the trenches at Vimy Ridge under withering fire to drag people to safety.

On the outside my grandfather was untouched by the war, but it changed him forever.

He would get these incredible rages. He beat his kids. To escape a man who used to beat him with the buckle end of his belt, my own father ran off to WWII when he wasn't quite 16. Yeah, you read the age right. He saw some of the worst of the war, including the incredibly brutal Italian campaign.

On the outside my father was untouched by the war, but it changed him forever.

It's not that he ever hit us. That kind of discipline was always left to my mother and then my stepmother, a very odd thing at a time when the words, "Wait until your father gets home" were common. When I was an adult and grown, and asked him about it, my father said he decided early on he would never physically discipline us because he was afraid that if he ever started to hit one of us, he would not be able to stop.

Not be able to stop.

No, my father never beat his kids. What war did to my father was finish the job that an unhappy home life began, and shut him down emotionally. He was so very young. He probably saw more than he should have and his response when he came home was to lock his feelings away.

Forever.

Even during those final weeks in the palliative care unit, when we all knew the clock was running down and if anything was to be said it had to be said then, my father refused to talk about feelings.

At first I thought it was just his response to us, his kids. He had always been a somewhat distant father. But when I spoke to my stepmother, she confessed that he had never really ever opened up to her, either.

It must have been a very lonely life, my father's life.

You know, I can barely stand to watch the news anymore. I see pictures of all these young men in uniform, listen to their bravado, and it just kills me. I wonder how many of them are going to die out there in the desert, how many of them are going to come back physically maimed.

And then I think about the men who will come home, as my grandfather did and my father did, to all appearances untouched by the war, but changed forever.

I think about the way this will ripple down through families, how some people who have never been to war will pay a price because their fathers have.

I know. I am being stupid. Not my country. Not my war. Really, I have no reason to be sad, yet I am. I have no reason to have troubled sleep, but I do. As I write this, my eyes are stinging and the screen is blurry from unshed tears.

We have paid a steep price for war in my family. I wish that others could be spared this pain.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 144.23 miles (232 kilometers) Ten percent there rubber duck.Ten percent there rubber duck.
Goal for 2003: 500 miles - 804.5 kilometers

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This template is a riff on a design by the truly talented Quinn. Because I'm a html 'tard, I got alot of pity coding to modify it from Ms. Kittay, a woman who can make html roll over, beg, and bring her her slippers. The logo goodness comes from the God of Graphics, the Fuhrer of Fonts, the one, the only El Presidente. I smooch you all. The background image is part of a painting called Higher Calling by Carter Goodrich which graced the cover of the Aug. 3, 1998 issue of The New Yorker Magazine.

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