Tonight, a reprieve from work, an evening with the family. It is a longstanding tradition in my home that Friday nights are "Family Movie Night". Popcorn, Hershey's chocolate bar, and pepsi. A children's movie. Since tonight I am here instead of work, my 5 year old and I decided we would walk to the store, and rent The Lorax. A favorite of my 8 year old. A long time favorite of mine.
It was dark when we set out, and the boy and I talked about how we never get to go Night Walking. He bounced along side of me, pointing out things as we went.
"That house has two dogs, a nice one, and a very loud one."
"Those are nice flowers, we should get flowers" So I point out the pretty tall ones that are blazing orange even in the dark, "Those are just tall dandelions."
"There are angels that watch me when I sleep. I only know one's name." And then true to five year old imagination, he adds, "They fight the bad guys for us while we sleep." Thinking my son was "gifted", or at the very least, weird, I asked what bad guys? "Oh you know, Decepticons, things like that." I chuckled.
But at one point he looked up, and there was only one star that we really could see, and he said make a wish. So we both stopped, tilted our heads back, and silently wished.
I wished for real happiness for my family.
"Well what did you wish for?" Apparently, this boy is not aware of the law that you do not tell wishes, but, I told him anyway.
"What did you wish for?" I asked back.
He told me he wished for a race track that could that could go underwater.... and for his Daddy's "brain injury to go away".
I hate the feeling of unwanted emotion that pricks your eyes and fills them with the flood that makes it impossible to Night Walk in any sort of straight line. Damn this war.
So I realized that though it is common for any patient in any chronic illness to assume a "sick role", I did not realize that little minds who very much need a strong and healthy father placed the ill in that as well. That is not good. That is the sort of thing that robs children of the need for feeling safe and protected.
I explained to him that Daddy's brain was injured when he was working for the Army, and that the brain is pretty awesome and healed itself like magic. But, the brain healed itself in a different way. Daddy's brain isn't broken son, its just, well....different.
He was satisfied with that. He asked about weapons used in the army. Like do they use swords? And Light Sabres. He went on about deflecting things with a sword....
But I wasn't satisfied. I don't want my boys to think their father is broken. Have I painted that picture? Does my husband think he is broken? Have we placed blame so much on his "hidden injuries of war" that they have clearly become very very visible?
I know that I do feel less protected. That feeling of a wife being safe when her husband is home? Yea, that isn't really true here. Though I feel better, I don't feel like other wives probably do. I feel like I'm in a better place to take action because HE can rally the kids while I go do what probably most other men would do. That isn't really normal either. Its not good in my mind. Somewhere, our whole life has taken this giant shift, and I think we continue to perpetuate it. Anyone married to a Veteran with these injuries knows that normal is out the window and never will be seen again, but are we mistaken by not trying even a little bit to sustain the norm? I guess you have to define what your norm is. What your wants and needs are, how they fit into this post combat mess, and then how you can go from there. My normal is not your normal, and your normal is not the next persons. I get that. I am just thinking out loud here about what is happening in my little world, versus what really IS.
It seems whenever I am doubting, or unsure, or feeling adrift, all I need to do is spend some sort of quiet time with one of my boys, and things seem to fall back in place. The perspective is regained, the knowledge that what is *really* important in my world is realigned.
So after the movie, the 5 year old, alseep on my legs, was carried off to bed, and what remained was a drugged out on chocolate and popcorn over tired extremely profound 8 year old. I could tell the movie was a little emotional for him, he and I are of the same tribe, it was for me too. Not wanting to make him embarressed for being teary eyed, I tried to make him laugh. Thus set off an incurable case of the giggles. Which of course, are highly contagious. My husband returned to the living room to see us laughing uncontrollably. What made me laugh even more was the thought, Holy Sh*t, the sight of the giggles in any one of my children is so rare, that it is almost alarming. That thought almost made my laughter turn into crying, so I stopped the madness before it dawned on the boy as well.
New Mission: Invoke the Giggles as much as humanly possible. Engage in more Night Walking.
And if you are reading this blog, chances are you are married to a man who fought in a war and is all sorts of messed up now too. In that case, if you have children, if you have access to a child of a wounded warrior, please, continue this mission with me.