Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In the Silences

           
When I was growing up, I used to hear about the war my parents had lived through long before I was born. Sometimes I’d ask my dad about being a marine in WWII. He’d pause for a moment and then tell me something lighthearted. To me, those few seconds—the ones that passed as he dropped his head as if in prayer and laced his fingers together to think of something appropriate to tell a little girl—spoke the loudest. It was the shadow that crossed his face that said it all. It was the silence that was significant.
On Saturday mornings, my dad would sleep in, but my mom got up at the usual time. She left the door open because she kept stuff she let us borrow in there: scissors, tape, nail polish. Sometimes I would sneak in there to get something. I’d make a game of it so as not to awaken my dad. I would tiptoe so lightly, my bare feet seemed to avoid the floor, let alone the squeaky floorboards. I wouldn’t breathe. It didn’t mater how quiet I was—I’d look over, and one eye would be watching me.
I used to ask him how he could wake up so easily. He’d shrug and say simply, “My life once depended on it.” Again, it was the silences that spoke.
When we buried my dad, rifles shot and trumpets blew. But the look that the flag-bearer gave us was more poignant than anything I’ve ever seen in my life, before or since. Written on his face, the face of one of my father’s fellow war buddies, was every emotion humanity has ever experienced: Sorrow. Strength. Pride. Sympathy. Empathy. Love. Fear. Grief. Triumph. And more. And they were all—all of them—spoken in total silence.
Last week I attended a middle school’s Veteran’s Day celebration. After the marching and singing and pledges and speeches, there was a moment when the entire student body seemed to be rendered completely silent, all on its own. And I realized this is what it’s about. Not just the day, but life itself. We work hard so that we may know rest, struggle that we may know ease, fight that we may know peace. It’s hard won, this silence, but worth it.
Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. If you see a vet, please thank him or her. And if not, next time you have a moment of rest, of ease, of peace—give thanks. In the silences, give thanks. For the silences.


The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.  ~Thomas Jefferson

11 comments:

  1. What you've said is so true, Tammy. Perhaps veterans can talk to one another about the horrors of war. I don't know. But we, as the children of veterans, were allowed to know only a little, and short statements such as "My life once depended on it" had to suffice until we were old enough to realize what they meant.
    Give thanks for the silences...what a wonderful suggestion.
    K

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kay! I do think it helps when they talk to each other.

      Delete
  2. Tammy--As usual, you write eloquently. Your simple childhood story speaks volumes.

    You need to develop this post into something bigger and more far-reaching. It was a wonderful reminder...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sioux! Maybe if I take out the contractions to up my word count a la NaNo?

      Delete
  3. Your telling evokes so many emotions, and I am certain others would like to read more. You sshould expand this. In the silence, volumes were spoken.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a lovely post, Tammy. As usual, your writing is eloquent and lyrical, and brings tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for your words -- I am silently reflecting on them at this very moment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I appreciate that, Teri! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beautiful post, Tammy. Your well-chosen words captured the heart of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautifully said, my friend. And you're right... about working hard so that we may know peace, etc. Oftentimes, we forget to enjoy those moments of peace/quiet/silence because we're so wrapped up in the next fight/battle/workload. I nice reminder, not just for Veterans Day, but every day. Thanks for sharing : )

    ReplyDelete

Any return "messages" are appreciated!