Thursday, June 02, 2011

Love Wins The Day

A military friend I've flirted, argued with, and defended for years in the comments section of Blonde Sagacity, lost a friend of his who had served two tours in Iraq to suicide a few weeks ago.  I can't adequately describe how good his writing is on the subject, so I'm just going to link it.

This is real life. It's not a screenplay. It's not politics. This is the ugliness we all fight to keep at bay.  It's why we stay up until 3 am playing video games. It's why we inject poison into our faces.  It's why we email pictures of our junk to 21 year olds.  Sometimes we're stupid. Sometimes the ugliness wins. But we fight on. We mourn the ones who make it real and we fight desperately on.

When Charles died, I thought the ugliness had won again. It had snatched the best of us.  Someone brave and strong and joyful and good.  I felt the same way after my father died.  But I was weak then and young and stupid. Too much responsibility and no skills for it.  Circumstance after circumstance seemed to set me back more and more until finally I met a nice guy named Jethro and made a couple of babies.

When Charles died, I found myself pounding the stairs in anticipation of that great and terrible pain that was sure to follow.  I ran out the door and into the street because I knew what that pain was and how much it was going to hurt. I tried to cry and get it out of the way before that searing, tearing agony reached my lungs. Dry sobs that felt like the desert. The ugliness.

Then I found Jethro. Again. I stopped and the pain came.  But gently this time. We held each other. We still loved each other.  We went to see our friends.  The barrier our love created for the two of us expanded. We still loved our friends. They still loved us. We beat back the ugliness.  We beat it away from each other. We beat it away from our memories of Charles.  We held onto each other and wouldn't let the ugliness in.

I remember once when we were freshmen in college.  It was the end of our first year and we were all gathered in Charles' dorm room to drink the horrible wine made by the chemistry majors for one of their projects. 20 people in a little bitty dorm room is not going to go unnoticed by the powers that be and we were interrupted in pretty short order by the glorified hall monitors.  We'd had a small practice drill at Charles' urging and we collectively managed to hide the bottles on our persons so that they could not be found.  The glorified hall monitors searched every place they were allowed to and found a small bottle of Everclear and 2 cans of beer in the tiny little dorm fridge.  Everyone stayed completely mute and let Charles do the talking, since it was his room.  After they left with their sad little confiscations, we were exuberant.  Giddy, even.  We still had the goods.  Charles looked admiringly at the group of us and complimented everyone on their presence of mind and coolness under pressure.  I like to think he would have felt the same way if he could have seen all of us at the funeral and other events that have taken place since.  Not that we were cool, exactly, but we stuck together.  We wouldn't let the ugliness take our wine, and we wouldn't let the ugliness take our love.

And this was the great difference.  When my father died, I had no one except histrionic relatives, younger sisters who believed our father would come back to life, and a mother who had just had her world destroyed.  The ugliness had easy targets.

But love is the bayonet and we all became stronger.

Things are better now in my family simply because we love each other and it's amazing. I never thought it would be good again, but it is. It was a struggle, but we all kept bayonetting and now things are beautiful. Imperfect as always, but beautiful. 

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