Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Looking at Life: Both Sides Now


The way you look at most things in life depends on which side of the fence you sit. This morning, in a five minute time span, I watched as both sides of an issue unfolded.

On my way back from a doctor's appointment, I stopped in to buy some fresh baked bread. Though I live in a smallish town, we are lucky enough to have three different spots where I can shop for breads right out of the oven. The aroma of the bread hit me at the same time as I began to hear the conversation between a customer and the woman behind the counter.

I don't know how much of the conversation I missed, but the man evidently was not thrilled with the outcome of the election. Fine; someone wins, someone loses. But the problem he had was mainly about the US slowly pulling out of all the wars. "We need to be in a conflict," he said. "It gives people work."

That logic always brings me back to an old Jefferson Airplane song. I can't remember off the top of my head which song it is, only the line which has stayed with me since the time of the Vietnam War.

"War's good business, so give your son."

Which brings me back to the bakery. The man left the store and the woman who was probably in her mid-30's, looked at me. In her eyes I could see...anger, disbelief, fear; I wasn't sure. Then she said "People have a right to say whatever they want, but my husband has had four tours in Iraq, and I just want him home, alive."

She then proceeded to tell me how over the sixteen years of their marriage, he has been home with the family for about four of them. He is now stationed in South Korea and is looking at possible deployment in Afghanistan after that tour is over. When he is home, his mind is troubled with thoughts of friends killed or badly injured. How he spends nights looking at their pictures online, reliving the nightmares he has witnessed.

She said these things without anger, regret or complaint. It was her life, her choice. The sadness in her eyes was not for herself, her husband or her family. Her sadness was caused by a man, one of many no doubt, who felt there was no downside to armed conflict. As long as it was "good" for the country, personal struggle or loss, while inconsequential.

I hardly knew what to say to her. I wanted to throw my arms around her in a big hug. As I walked out the door, I said something I never say. "Good bless your family." They were the only words that felt appropriate.

I only hope He does.


  1. I have no doubt He will. I realize some people have no filter...but that guy needs to find one. :(

  2. In hearing her story, I was so struck by her remarkable restraint in not telling him where to go. I would not have had that much grace.

  3. Heartbreaking. And you said the right thing. I mean, really in such a scenario there just are no RIGHT things, but the man who said to her that war is a means of keeping people in business clearly isn't thinking of the emotional toll deployment has on families.

    I don't know that I would have been able to keep myself as composed as she did in this moment. What a remarkably strong woman.


  4. Yes, I agree. And to look at her, you could never imagine what her life story is. I was truly humbled by her courage.