It's funny, looking back I notice that many of my posts regarding my feelings and experiences with post traumatic stress and other Iraqi aftershocks are reflected by wands.
Sometimes they stir up the sentiment and emotion, lying shallow beneath my surface, other times like this, I select them as they so adequately reflect those that have surfaced on their own.
Those are the worst ones, the ones that come of their own accord. Without warning. That's the worse part of PTSD, you don't have any warning, or control over when it happens. You never know whats going to set it off. You think you do, and you shy away from those things. And after you finally conquer the fear of those triggers, you end up tripping over new ones.
Today I took my Priestess out for Sushi, her favorite lunch and her favorite restaurant. It was our own little celebration of her college graduations before the big one tomorrow. She is the first one in her Mom's family to graduate from college so EVERYONE is coming.
We've been going there for years, we know the owner and staff quite well and my daughter even worked there for a while. We have our regular seats, and I've become comfortable there. I don't need to sit with my back to a wall, and monitor everyone's movements, although the urge is still there.
I love the Ninja roll, my usual. It's hot, spicy and messy, but I haven't changed my order in over four years. Its comforting. There is a traditional Japanese greeting that is announced by all the staff every time someone enters the restaurant, my own little warning bell. It too is comforting. I chewed slowly as I watch the man lumber in with his large bulging nylon briefcase. It seemed to cold for the beads of sweat near his ears.
His face was flushed and I remember thinking how out of shape he must be. But more than that, there was something else out of place. I couldn't place it. He excused himself to the restroom as I replayed his entry over and over, my wife's voice echoing in the background. His suit was fancy, expensive, but his watch was a cheap five dollar knockoff. And so was his briefcase.
It was then that the feeling of absolute terror took me. I put my arm around my wife and hugged her tight. There is a rear exit next to the restroom. I looked at her, so happy, so excited. She was still talking but my heartbeat drowned out her beautiful voice. As I looked down at the briefcase, through my throbbing heartbeat, I swear I could hear the ticking. I remember thinking, she graduates tomorrow, one more day, one more day. I held her tighter, the light and life in her eyes has always been so calming. I told myself it wasn't a bomb, it wasn't a bomb, it wasn't a bomb...
The Sushi chef behind the bar looked at me, looked at the briefcase, looked at the back door and looked at me again. He shared my concern for only a moment before he looked up and smiled at the returning customer. Apparently, the man had a very "close call."
He wasn't the only one.
There is a whole generation of us. you see us everyday and you'd never know, the battles we fought, and how close we came to death over there. While I can recount a handful of thoughts, I cannot express in words, the feeling of almost dying so many times, since I've been home.
Memorial Day is this Monday, and what is remembered lives, remember them.