I’ve discovered the worst thing about being in Bagram, about being in any deployed location: there is no place in which one is ever really alone.
I picked up mail today, after work; Bess’s ashes arrived, safely. I opened the package in my room, and it was okay, at first- there were the vials, hung on ball chains, no big deal, I saw those when I sent them to my aunt. I tilted them delicately next to my ear, listening to the sand slip around inside, struck by the thought that it was Bess in there, really Bess, my Bess. The wonder of her, silent, sliding against glass. Where’s the rest? I thought, although I know: she is all over the world, in pieces and bits, just how she’d like it.
My aunt Janet slipped a piece of Bess’s jewelry inside the envelope, that’s what did it. A gold- plated heart, awkwardly engraved with her name, an old Mother’s Day gift: it completely undid me.
It is exactly how I thought it would be: it is like losing her all over again, and this time so far from home.
I stood and cried into my bed, quietly, not wanting anyone to know, not wanting anyone to hear; these huts are made of plywood, you can hear everything and the idea of sending some consoling stranger away was too much. The last thing I ever want is that cooing sort of comfort, the crooning embrace; I vastly prefer to cry alone.
That’s all I get; silent crying, like some 1950’s black and white melodrama. Weeping, for fuck’s sake. There is no place to go to, no where to rage or mourn. There is no shooting range, no quiet place to pull off the road and just lose my shit. This is it.
This is it.
And it’s not as though I’m a talker- I am, but not about something like this; it’s too big for talking, too big to explain, too much to share, and it is mine; I keep it, hold it, hoard it: this is what I have left, an enormous ache in the pit of me that I don’t want to let go. There’s a blank spot in my world now, and I want to keep that place for her; she will not be coming back, but it has her shape.
And yet, and still: I could use Sam’s sweet careful distance, the way he manages to be both there and not- there, or Jason’s ability to sit in silence; I could take this to them and they would hold it gracefully, without trite words (so useless, words, in this), without embarrassment, without needing to turn it this way and that or mention it later. I could use some time in my backyard looking at the stars. I could use the smell of my daughter’s hair and the knowledge that all that created all this. There is, here, very little in the way of comfort, and I feel the lack.