Like another lifetime
Yet the same lives,
My dad, your husband,
Is off fighting the war
Your thoughts are with him,
Wondering, is he safe?
Is he hungry?
Will he make it home?
Not wanting to think about it,
Not wanting to watch the news,
But worrying nonetheless.
My little sister wonders too
Though it looks like she’s playing
Making lines in the dirt
Like a meditation.
I stand quietly.
Wondering how to help.
Maybe just standing by your side.
Now, I understand
How strong you really were.
This photo is one of the treasures I’ve found as I go through the things that belonged to my parents, Betty and Jim. It was taken in 1967 when my father was in Vietnam and we were visiting relatives in Connecticut. Whoever took it had a good eye for capturing the moment. It’s very different from most of the photos I find where my mother is older, posing with a smile or volunteering at church or the soup kitchen with Dad.
When I was growing up, my mother suffered from depression that caused her to be hospitalized more than once. The last nervous breakdowns came when Dad was in Vietnam. For many years I thought of my mother as weak. She was always kind, but a little fuzzy in the brain. I wanted her to be strong.
Now, I get the fuzzy brain too, like: “why did I come into this room?” Now, when I look at this photo, I feel compassion.
After Mom died in 2008, I asked my dad what helped him get through the horrors that haunted him from Vietnam – things he didn’t want to talk about because they gave him nightmares.
“It was your mother’s love,” he told me.
I always knew they loved each other very much. But I had not known this:
My mother’s love was strong enough to save the strongest man I’ve ever known.
Yesterday, I wished my mom a happy birthday. I’m glad she and Dad are together again. Strong in faith. Strong in love.