Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I Need a Better Map

I see people around me all day and I think I understand them because we are sharing this same experience. We have this hardship in common, this isolation, this danger, this lonliness, a longing for friends and family half a world a way. Because our paths have intersected at this austere place at this particular time, I think I have an understanding of those around me. We wear the same uniform. We come from the same country. We are here for the same reason. I know you don't I?

We lost a soldier Sunday night to, what was possibly, a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We received the news in the early hours of Monday morning and we waited in numbness and shock for the details to filter in.

It's the details that we crave because it's what we use to paint the picture, it's how we try to find the answers. We start at the end of his journey and work our way back drawing in the details to the map that brought him here as best we can, but we only share the route so far, there are never enough details. I need a better map.

While I know the path that brought me to this place, it's pitfalls and tortuous hills, I also know that I am the only person who has taken that exact route here. Why then do I insist on measuring his journey to this place by the standard of my path? Why then, if I know this, do I judge his strength and stamina, his skill and endurance, by a simple comparison to my own? I need a better map.

I need to know the hills that he climbed that brought him to the place we met. I need to know if the rivers that he had to cross sapped his strength, or if it was just a pitfall that he encountered while on the path alone that night. The map needs more details, a higher resolution.

I know the details that I seek will give me the answers. I need a higher resolution to draw the map to the scale I need. It will have be 1:1, a life-size map, in 3 dimensions and a passage through time. I will have to carry his body armor and ruck-sack up the same grades, and over the same obstacles. I will have to know which parts he walked alone through and where he was carried or I will be tempted to just fill in the blank spots from the map of my own journey. I need a better map.

I need a map of his soul. I need to know what he believed in and from what sources he drew his strength. I need to know if his character was flawed or perhaps his spirit broken by brute force and ignorance. If I have this map maybe I won't shoulder the responsibility or lay the blame at someone else's feet. With this resolution maybe I won't draw from the generalities of my own narrow path, a generic reason which I can wrap around this horror then tuck it away. Yes, I need a better map

Maybe the map I need though isn't of his soul, but of mine. I will never be able to live his life for him, but I can chart the course of mine. I can choose the star to guide me, and use the maps of others before me to plot my course. I can draw from the experience of my journey so far, including the path we shared, to help me through the perils ahead. Even then though, the map might not be enough, I will probably still need help.

I'll need somone to walk with me. Someone to carry the light when it gets too dark or take some of the burden when it gets too heavy. Thankfully, I already have that. Pam has shined more light on my path and carried more of my burden than I can ever express in words. She needs to know. I need to tell her more, show her more; more detail, higher resolution. I hope I can draw her a better map.


Papa Ray said...


"He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled,
That lies unlifted now, come dew, come rust,
But still lies pointed as it ploughed the dust.
If we who sight along it round the world,
See nothing worthy to have been its mark,
It is because like men we look too near,
Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere,
Our missiles always make too short an arc.
They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect
The curve of earth, and striking, break their own;
They make us cringe for metal-point on stone.
But this we know, the obstacle that checked
And tripped the body, shot the spirit on
Further than target ever showed or shone".

Robert Frost

Papa Ray
West Texas

devildog6771 said...

You just did tell her. May I share something I found that may help you and your men.

Soldier's Tears

As I prepared myself to leave
I didn’t know just why
my love came to me
with tears falling from her eyes
and as she spoke
her voice broke
she whispered while she cried

My love told me
you have no feeling
because you never cry

The words hurt deep
into my heart
as I asked the question why

My own answer
came to me
by shock
or maybe surprise

It’s because angels cry for me
their tears are the stars in the sky
stars run down their cheeks
and cause a twinkle to the eye

Stars bunch together
like tears
and fall as rain from the sky
they hurry to the streams
only angels know why

they whisper the answer
to my ear
if I only understood why
it has to do with feeling
not tears from the eye

It is the angels that cry for me
is that the reason why

So that’s why I never cry
with what I’ve seen in this land
far from the sky

A friend’s life falls before me
I have to ask the question why
this bitter war tares the tears
right from my eyes
it rips deep inside of me
so my angels have to cry

They count their tears by the millions
rush to fill the skies
they fall as showers to the earth
as I watch and wonder why

I watch as innocent children suffer
while they lay down and cry
I feel their tears as if they were mine
if I knew their reason why

Feelings aren’t logical
so my eyes remain dry
so I pray for the angels
to fill the stars in the sky

The hot desert wind blows
and sand hits my eyes
I squint a try to see
knowing they’re dry

Again I ask the question
why can’t I cry

Seat runs down my back
as I see the stars
from the sky dark night
knowing that somewhere
cool rain fills the sky

As I see the children suffer
the pain rips deep inside
I wish for rain to hit my face
and run down my cheeks
only I know why

Because angels cry for me
their tears are the stars in the sky
they run together as tear drops
and fall like rain from the sky
I hope they hit my face
and run like tears from my eye
the war rips on and many more will cry

Lonely soldiers face
tomorrow and days quickly
go by you can see it in their
faces their need to cry
but their tears are safe in the
heavens and only the angels
know just why

When I ask angels their
secret as to why they
whisper the answer with a sweat breath
like rain from the sky

It’s not the tears that matter
it’s how you feel inside

So I keep the words angels
whispered lock it deep inside
angels have the answers
as secrets they keep close by

My tears you’ll see forever
as stars in the sky and as
rain that falls from the heaven
as showers fill the sky.

Poem Written by:
CSM Mark B. Duwel
Operation Iraqi Freedom
War Against Terrorism
Baghdad, Iraq
478th Civil Affairs Battalion
United States Army
United States of America

God Bless and be with you and you fellow troops. May he comfort you now in your time of pain. It is not your fault you fellow soldier died. There was nothing you or the rest of you could have done to prevent what he did. He may have brought baggage with him that maybe he wasn't even aware of. He may have carried some secret pain or just saw more than he could contain. Do not look back on him as a failure or that you failed. He was neither a coward as some will say or a man who just gave up. He just needed to be with God at this time. He chose the only path he could see at this point in time in his life. And, yes, though I am a Catholic, I believe he is with God. God is taking away his pain.

In another time, or another place, maybe someone could have helped him through this. But know that you all did what you could. For whatever reason he couldn't ask for help. Later, I would seggest you send his family a copy of that beautiful poem you wrote to help them believe that they too did all they could ans someone else cared about him.

If you ever need a f riend to talk to email me or post my blog. I'm an "older" goat so I'm not after your "bones!!" [lol]

devildog6771 said...

Papa Ray, I love Robert Frost. Also, it is so good of you to always seem to be there when one of our guys needs a good word. You must be anangel in disguise!

Toni said...

What a tragic and sad end to a life.