A couple weeks back I heard the news of Clay Hunt’s death. I never met him, but I had read of him. He went through hell, and he gave more than many will ever know. As a Marine, he saw the worst that men can do to each other. As a civilian, he exemplified the better angels of our nature through his efforts with Team Rubicon.

I never saw combat like he did. I got shot at once and it didn’t even come close. I’ve lost friends though, and I’ve been injured and seen things I wished I’d never seen.  This isn’t meant to say that anything I ever did came close to what Clay endured. It didn’t. He saw less than some, but more than most. Far more.

What I have to say is mostly a catharsis, a bit of writing for myself. Sometimes that works for me. Sometimes writing about things helps sort them out. I need to get back to writing, though, because it’s been too long and I’ve much to say, and I am more than humbled by anyone who takes the time to read, let alone comment on anything I post.

There are few days that go by that I don’t think of 2 friends who I lost so many years ago. I’ve often wondered why I lived and they did not. I’m no one special. There’s no reason on earth why they were killed and I wasn’t.  Fate? Chance? Their time to go? I don’t know. Later,  I spent 2 months at Bethesda healing from my own injuries, and years of doctors and surgeries. I have more awaiting me.

I often see my shipmates in my dreams and they try to tell me something, but the words never seem to come. Just an awful silence, then a long time waiting in the dark for the sun to come up, because I can never get back to sleep after those dreams.

Sometimes I drink too much, because it’s the only way to get to sleep and know their won’t be any dreams.  Or physical pain. You can take the pain meds but then you can’t function most times if you do.

The thing is, when you are young and immortal, it’s easy to deal with these issues at first. You grieve, and then you put those memories up in boxes and shut them away in some far corner of your mind.  Over time, though, the walls of those boxes break down, and what’s inside slowly comes back out. Some event, some image, some sound, some smell, and suddenly it’s all right there in front of you again, and it’s harder each time to put them back in the boxes, to file them away.

You can go to the VA, you can try this and that, they can give you meds, but it’s like an addiction, in that there is no cure, just new ways to try and cope with things, to get on with life. You spend time with friends and family, but at night you’re all alone with your dreams, and some have harder times with that than others. I’ve been lucky to have had a family and raised my kids, something my friends didn’t get, and again I keep wondering why me? Why did I get these good things? Why did I survive? I don’t have answers, probably never will.

Rest easy Clay. You were a good man and a good Marine, and people are alive today because of the things you accomplished.

God Bless him, and all who go in harm’s way.


3 Responses to “Afterward”

  1. April 19, 2011 at 01:16

    Beautiful, Tim. Enjoyed reading it. Look forward to more.

    Writing for yourself is a good thing; it’s therapeutic. That’s why I call mine, “Ramblings…” My posts are memoir type experiences, some absurdly comical, others more introspective.

    Honing your craft is good fer yer brain; if others find some enjoyment in it, all the better.

  2. 2 Marilyn Pfaff
    April 19, 2011 at 01:19

    Tim, I wish I could find the words to say how this made me feel. This brought me to tears — of sorrow and pride. And yes, Amen — God bless all in harm’s way. Rest in peace, Clay. May God in his mercy lead you home.

  3. 3 Mongo
    April 19, 2011 at 03:42

    Dealing with the pain is never easy, Tim, whether it be physical or emotional. I don’t know what it is we do that makes it more tolerable, but there is something. Maybe we just become emotinally and/or spiritually numb to it all. I just don’t know.

    There are times when I realize just how much I have changed as a person because of my pain. On the one hand, I have become more compassionate and tolerant. On the other, I have become more cynical and harsh. It’s an interesting conundrum, and there will be no surcease until journey’s end. Let us continue to share it together, and perhaps we’ll find moments of laughter…or not. 😉

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