Archive for June 7th, 2013

07
Jun
13

the end

goat eyes

The other day I saw Edith, Michael’s mother, at the mailboxes. It was the first time I’d seen her since he’d died.

“How are you?” I asked.

“I’m doing okay,” she replied. “Getting through one day at a time.”

I warned her to stay away from my blog. I’d written a little about her son, and there was more coming. It might make her upset.

She doesn’t do the Internet, she said, or any of that computer stuff. It’s just as well, I thought.

But since I saw her, Michael has been on my mind with greater frequency, and I’m sure the only way to put his memory to rest is by declaring that the Viet Nam War is finally over… or his war, at any rate.

You see, Michael hadn’t dreamed much since the war. When he did dream, he was terrorized by threatening creatures with goat-like eyes. When he did dream, the nightmares were unbearable, and Michael could endure almost anything. He was the toughest person I knew. He was always in pain because of wartime injuries but always smiled. Even though the overseas fighting had stopped for him, he was still within the VA system and military frame of mind.

He took drugs so he wouldn’t feel as much pain, but it was always there. He also took drugs so he wouldn’t dream. He told me about the dreams one of the last times we were together. Can you imagine not dreaming for forty years?

The more I got to know Michael, the better I felt about avoiding the war. The more I saw the way his “grateful nation” treated him, made him jump through hoops to receive basic aid, the less guilt I felt about not having been cannon-fodder in LBJ’s senseless carnage.

As long as Michael continued to suffer, the war continued. Now that he is dead, his war is over.

But how many of his brothers still suffer? How long will their war go on?

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Doors performing “The End”

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postscript

Lynn surprised me with a visit today (6.11.13), and as part of our tearful reminiscences, she said that Michael was off the anti-dream drugs towards the end. Not to my surprise, he did not have any of the terrifying dreams. He ended his days happy and at peace.