SOL17: Tuesday Tanka

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Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for providing space every Tuesday.

one lifetime ago
your helicopter traveled
into the jungles
inhaled agent orange clouds
now you’ve left this world too soon

© 2017, jone rush macculloch

A lifetime ago, I was married to a person who served our country as a Warrant Officer, and helicopter pilot in Vietnam.  We parted ways after eleven tumultuous years.

At the time, I couldn’t talk with him about our split.  Emotions settled and we found different partners and paths. I gained perspective.  I regret not reaching out to go for a cup of coffee to talk especially after 25 years to say what I hadn’t been able to say (which over the years of processing, I was willing to see my part of the bargain).  I did write him when I found out that he had cancer from Agent Orange.

Yesterday, I received a text from a friend, “Call me when you get home tonight.”  For me, my anxiety shot up and finally after three or four texts as to the what, I called.

She told me he’d died.  It took a minute to register, what?  ___________ died.  The service is soon.  “Should I go?”  I wondered aloud and my friend said, “Yes, and I want to go with you.”

So. Many. Emotions.  This was a person among many who returned from a war without the needed emotional and mental help available to him.  This was a person who struggled with demons.  This was a person who did a lot for his community to bring the miniature Vietnam Wall to his hometown for the public to see when it first began touring. This was a person who suffered from PTSD. This was a person who got a Veteran’s Day parade started in his town (although they no longer have it).  This was a person who reached out and worked in the veteran community.  This is a person who’s country let him and other vets down.

While so much is surfacing, I am trying to stick with the positive memories.  I long buried the negative remembrances. I want to remember the time we sat on Orca Island at Mount Constitution and watched the sunset. I want to remember the camping trips with reading for hours or playing backgammon and bridge.  I want to remember the snow camping trip. I want to remember the time I went walked in his grandmother’s blueberry patch and the taste of fresh elk liver from the one he shot. I want to remember him as a person who served his country and continued to advocate for vets.  I regret that I didn’t get to tell him those things.

This quote says it all for me today.  I will probably be back to revise this but for now, I want to remember the sadness I feel for someone I loved a lifetime ago.

rf quote

 

 

 

 

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15 Responses to SOL17: Tuesday Tanka

  1. Thanks for sharing your powerful remembrances and poem, Jone.

  2. What a beautiful, poignant piece. Hugs to you, Jone.

  3. im so sorry for your loss.

  4. So much emotion. So much truth. Thank you for writing and sharing.

  5. carwilc says:

    So sorry for your loss Jone… This is a beautiful piece of writing.

  6. katswhiskers says:

    This is so sad. But your honesty is raw and beautiful, Jone. Thinking of you as you process all those thoughts and feelings – and cling to the good.

  7. katswhiskers says:

    This is sad – and yet so raw and beautiful, Jone. Thinking of you as you process all these thoughts and feelings – and cling to those good times.

  8. Tara Smith says:

    This is so powerful, Jone, thank you for sharing this story with us.

  9. margaretsmn says:

    This post reminds me of another quote: “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This man had a hard battle and so did you. Praying you find peace.

  10. MAK says:

    Wow, you are the embodiment of Ralph’s quote. Peace to you.

  11. morencyclr@aol.com says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and profound story…

Comments are closed.