“What am I doing with my life?”
Rain pelted the tin roof and made muddy puddles of water in my manicured lawn. Along the front porch, irises, roses, and evergreen plants bent to the will of nature’s fury. A storm raged in my mind, as the physical storm broke limbs out of the pine trees which are scattered down the driveway.
The wind howled mercilessly, as it whipped debris across the landscape. “So much for keeping the lawn tip-top.” I stood at the large window and watched as the wind blew my trash cans down the drive like they were weightless. “If only my life was as easy to square away as my lawn. I would be in great shape if that was the case.”
Memories of war clouded my mind as the storm continued to thrash my yard. Flashes of death caused my vision to glaze over, the sound of the dying filled my ears. “Wasn’t no rain in Iraq. Just bullets, explosions, and loaded donkeys filled with artillery rounds.” Some memories are good. Time spent with friends, jokes we played on each other and the hard times we used to bond into a formidable force are some of the memories that make me smile.
“Bad weather brings the worst memories. Maybe it has to do with Fallujah or perhaps it has to do with some other traumatic crap I’ve dealt with throughout my life. Either way, these memories suck.” The physical storm had lessened, and my hampered vision gradually cleared. My trash cans were finally stopped by the toppled pine that laid across the middle of the yard. I walked out on the porch and started across the lawn, taking great care to avoid stepping in the newly formed puddles. The wind blew gently, as I gripped a trash can in each hand and walked back toward the house.
I flipped the cans over and placed them under the carport. My phone began to ring and grumpily I looked at the screen. “I’ll be dang, it’s Pete Holmes.” Pete is a friend from my time in the sandbox. As I struggle with my demons, many vets (Pete included), struggle with their own. I have heard several theories which have attempted to explain why veterans struggle with PTSD etc. To be fair, I have formulated my own theory.
My phone continued to ring and finally I answered it. There was a brief silence while both of us waited for the other to speak. Finally, Pete broke the silence.
“Hey man, how are you?”
“Not good. I’m dealing with some memories and my demons are kicking my butt. How are you?”
I chuckle ruefully. “The irony is thick enough I could cut it with my combat blade.”
“Eh, Pete. I’m okay. We had a storm here today, and my demons kicked up a bit too.”
“I don’t want to live anymore, brother. You remember my wife Jules? She left. It took her an hour to empty the bank account and she ran off with Jenner. My kids blame me for her splitting. I have nothing left to live for.”
“Nah man, you can’t think like that. As hard as it is at times, we must find a way to be positive. It can’t rain every day. Eventually, life will cut us a break.”
“Yeah, I guess. I just wanted to call and chat with you a few moments. It’s good to talk to you. I miss being at war.” He choked up, and I waited for him to find the strength to continue. “Anyway, I will let you go. It was an honor to serve with you.”
“You too brother, be safe. If you can’t be safe, be deadly.”
Hours later, my phone rang again. Turning over in bed, I looked at my phone. “Danny? Danny Anders? What is going on?” Danny, Pete and I were friends in Iraq. We were ¾ of my truck team.
“Hey, Danny. What’s going on man?”
“Hey bro, sorry to wake you. I just thought you should know, Pete’s gone.”
I sat up in the bed and tears trickled down my cheeks, but in my mind the storm continued to roar.