November 11, 2015:
“Incoming! Get down!” Thud! The vividness of my dream sends me crashing off my couch. Pushing my drunken body off the floor, the world suddenly spins out of control. “Why do you do this to yourself?” I feel something wet coming from my mouth. Wiping with the back of my hand, I see blood. Staggering down the hall, I wash my mouth out. “Why did my friends die? Why did God see fit to bring me home?” A psychologist once told me it was survivors’ guilt. In no uncertain terms I called him an idiot. However, here I am on another Veteran’s Day getting drunk to “honor” my friends’ sacrifice.
Drunken sleep is not conducive to good dreams. Flashes of memories torment me while I sleep. Broken bodies, the cries of the wounded, the impact of indirect fire, all of it is playing in the theater of my mind. It all seems so real. After washing my mouth out, I stumble back into my living room in search of my recliner. When I sit down my eyes close to block out the sunshine coming through the bay window. My dead friends’ faces confront me.
Silent tears burn down my cheeks. “Being drunk doesn’t bring your friends back stupid.” At this point in my life, I have never felt so alone. I am finally able to stand without swaying, and I head back to the kitchen. Reaching for a glass, I notice the second bottle of Jameson. Nausea hits me like a dump truck. Racing to the bathroom I expel the contents of my empty stomach. “Never again. From this point forward in my life, I will never drink again.”
I haven’t drunk alcohol since this day. Three years sober, I still desire the burn of whiskey at times. Proverbs 20:1 state, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: whosever is deceived thereby is not wise.” I have no doubt that my excessive drunkenness will impact my health at some point, however, some of the best lessons are often the hardest to learn. Alcohol promised to make me forget, but it is only a temporary hold on my memories. When I sober up, my friends are still dead. No amount of alcohol can bring them back. Instead of me getting wasted every night in remembrance of them, I have purposed in my heart to live a life that will honor them and their sacrifice.
Another Scripture reads like this: Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Many of my friends paid the ultimate price for our opportunity to come back to the world and to live a life of our own choosing. Maybe one day, I will be able to put my memory of my best friend and his death on this blog or in A Walk In Darkness. Today is not that day. Fifteen years later, the wound is still to fresh to write about. Perhaps in another fifteen I will be able to put it on paper. Until then, I will be sober and doing my best to honor those who have paid the highest price for my freedom.