(for Small Daughter and GeoV)
It has been suggested, that, if, you could convince yourself that you were already dead, the torment of dying wouldn’t bother you (as much). I already know what it’s like to be dead, having been dead before: there isn’t shit over there on the other side; no light, no tunnel, no rapture or dancing, lemonade or servings of German chocolate cake… just a nagging dread that some fuck-head is going to come grab you from it, and bring you back to hell. That is just how it is to be stung by the Soldier’s Heart.
When a father loses his young children, when he has them taken away, he’s doesn’t have to remind himself that they are gone, for nothing else exists but the loss of his children. The world becomes a missing 14-year-old girl, and an 11-year-old boy… except the boy is 12 now; 12 already and his Dad has already lost track?
He has missed two of their birthdays, two Christmases, two Thanksgivings, two Halloweens, two Easters… two children for over two years, and that can be just too much. It gets worse when all channels of communication are removed from the father and those two children, so Dad can’t text them a joke, or the answer to a homework question, or send a picture of a praying mantis clinging to the backdoor screen… the stupid stuff, the pointless stuff, the wastes of time.
A Snapchat from Small Daughter is a dot of joy in Dad’s life. A pointless not-so-funny YouTube video clip from his son becomes another joyous dot in the life. Time becomes that which merely connects the dots. It connects them yes, but also separates the two dots, making it a longer and longer wait between them. Time is not at all on Dad’s side.
How Dad wishes the dots could be so much more frequent; the lines all the shorter. That connect-the-dots game is supposed to eventually form a recognizable thing, a thing you like. Dad’s thing is still an amorphous mass. It seems most of the time, that is all it will ever be; an amorphous thing with no soul.
During ‘prisoner of war’ training with the Delta force, locked in our tiny wooden cells for days on end, there blared ear-splitting recordings of sounds that were judged to be of the nature that vexed a subject to the point of breakdown. (I should have offered them a recording of my X ranting at the dinner table… take my wife, please… oh right, someone already did—bah-doomp CRASH!!)
One such recording, droning on for hours, was of a little girl crying out to her Daddy to please come home because “bad men are hurting mommy.” A loop that served to drive the married men with children mad.
“Shut up, you little brat!” mentally spat the father who had not dared yet to be one. And the child cried on and on. “This is nothing more than a birth control seminar!” snapped the pre-father.
What sorrow the father has come to know with the realization that the sound worse than the pinning of the little girl, was the sound of no little girl at all. He submits to you that the rants and the gloom, and the goth and the doom, are a symphony next to the legacy ringing in the absence of sound left in his ears by a decade of violent and tumultuous experience.
Few things are more vexing than the sound of something that is not really there, the nothing that is slightly louder in the right ear than the left. It’s maddening… at times.
Few things are more horrifying that the sight of something that is not there any longer, when its presence used to mean more than this Earth could possibly give, to a father. When that happens the father can look up from the bottom of an empty bottle, seeing the opening so, so, so far up there. Knowing that being just a man, he cannot possibly pull himself up and out through the top. But understanding that it is because he is just a man, a human man, he just HAS to get out, lest he fail to make it to the next bottle, to forget. No, not so much to forget, rather to not remember.
Dad can’t go outside much. There are too many children out there to be seen purely by incidence or coincidence… or accident. Those horrid little ones, who have the mean streak running in them. Vile and foul little fuckers who taunt the father with their childhood. “Look at me, look at me over here, you there Dad; don’t I remind you of someone, someone you can’t see or hear anymore? Ha ha ha… bad men are coming to hurt mommy, bad men are coming, you wretched sort, you!”
Ok that does it; let’s here it, Dad!
Make me a juggernaut
lead my foray
guide my path, or lay me down
give me the hardest task
spare me glory
gift me strength, me
lest I down
Ok good, but not good enough—let’s hear it again and louder this time, like you really mean it. Let’s hear it over and over and louder and louder… like the music that blares non-stop in the prison camp!
“…but… this… IS the prison camp, don’t you get it?” explains the father: “THIS. IS. THE. PRISON. CAMP!!”
So prays the father his prayer that he prayed before each military mission. That was long ago; the missions monumental. Today, for the father, the mission is leaving his residence, and venturing where people are. There are memories out there you know, for even the most careful Dad on the planet, there are too many memories to just go and avoid them all.
“Stop, children… what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down.”
It’s just that difficult for a Dad, a dad who dared, daring daddy, a dumb dim-witted dad.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Hell, even I warned myself, and in my own words: “Beware ye, ye men and women there, you who dare to have children, and who dare to fall madly in love with children… because there is subjugating misery and uncertainty that awaits ye, ye who dare to love children.”
Ah, but you can no sooner deny children to parents, than you can deny young couples to each other, when they are so much in love, and eons away from the clue that they will all eventuality become mortal nemesis, locked in eternal combat, in ever-increasing numbers as generations wear on…
Dad really does miss you son, but please God, don’t play that Cat’s Cradle song in my head again. I thumbed my nose at it with such a sneer on the day that it came out. That Harry Chapin, what a dumbass, him and his stupid songs.
I missed my son’s tenth birthday too… seems like it was just the other day. Seems like… my son turned ten just the other day, he said: “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play. Can you teach me to throw?” I said: “Not today, I gotta lot to do.” He said: “That’s ok.”
But be there, per chance, a good Lord in the heaven that bends above us, there may be an exclusive place in damnation for the one of the couple who pits children against the other, be it a minority benefactor’s effort, or deliberate coup de me’prise… there be that place in damnation nonetheless, I do strongly suspect. I’m a suspicious sort. That I do fancy myself.
How does that saying go: we lie in the beds we make for ourselves. So says the father, the father of the young brother and sister, the ones who are not there at all to be seen, and who make no sound. And the father with no sight or sound of his children reminds so matter of factly:
“Karma has no expiration date, mother.”
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting our Veteran Editorial by becoming a SOFREP subscriber. Click here to get 3 months of full ad-free access for only $1