Returning Home

 You’re thinking, “That doesn’t make sense. They’re happy to have him home. That’s all that matters to them. He’s safe and alive.”     

True. That’s their first reaction. It lasts until the welcome home hug and the long breathless embrace. It’s afterward, when you each pull back and look into the other’s eyes. That’s when you lose each other.     

Let’s say you’re his Dad. When this vet left for war, he was still your boy, full of fun and pranks. Life was an open invitation to adventure. Anything was possible. That’s the image locked in your mind since he left. Your response now to this vet is to that image.     

But that’s not the image before you. His eyes tell you how much he has changed. Their twinkle is gone. His gaze is unwavering, but deep beneath its open appraisal dwells hurt, pain and confusion, and a longing for returned innocence.       

After months at war, your boy has grown older than you. He’s lived with death chasing him, usually on the roadside or on the path of a local village. How many improvised explosive devices have killed his buddies? Those buddies became closer to him than you, his Dad.      

He’s happy to see you, but his heart yearns for those left behind, for the adrenalin rush, for the heart-pounding fear, for the ecstasy of mutual relief when they beat death together one more time. Even what he smells has changed. Every new scent is tainted with his memory of reeking cordite, burnt flesh, gas fumes, and the stench of spewed guts.     

For that moment, he’s vulnerable. He lets you see into him, and then the impact of seeing you again strikes him. He sees how you’ve changed, and aged, worrying about him. He mentally pulls a mask over his need for comfort to protect you from all that he has seen and what he has become. To defend and protect. Who better than the ones he loves?     

He shakes off the sudden sense of discomfort and uncertainty, and says to himself, “I’m home. Everything will be fine.”     

And the estranged tap dancing around each other begins.   


About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan vets, Canadian Armed Forces, caregivers, depression, emotional trauma, estrangement from family, federal government, Homecoming Vets, mental illness, physical disability, post traumatic stress disorder, social workers, suicide, veterans' affairs, veterans' assistance programs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Returning Home

  1. Discovered your blog via yahoo the other day and absolutely like it. Continue the good work.

  2. Bonnie, again, thank you for sharing. The writing in this piece is exceptional and haunting. I still remember seeing within the eyes, not knowing at the time what I was looking at. If only I had it to do over again . . .

    Nancy @

    • I have read your latest posting, Nancy. The description is beautiful and your experience at The Wall is something all those who have lost loved ones in military missions or to their subsequent combat injuries can relate to your feelings. More importantly, you engage all readers in the significant impact The Wall has on those left behind. Your book expresses what most people in mourning cannot say for themselves. You are doing a great service for military families dealing with loss and the afternmath of their loved ones’ rollercoaster anguish resulting from combat stress innjuries, and an even greater service for public readers who have not walked in your shoes. “There but by the grace of God go I.” Hoo-rah, Nancy!

  3. aiden says:

    Fascinating new concept on healing PTSD at where they say “In our Evolutionary Love Burst Classes, we first explain the truth behind the Evolutionary Love Bursts of a Multi-dimensional human orgasm. Then, we give a full explanation of karma and reincarnation, (using real life examples), that enables participants to fully understand why “bad things do happen to good people”. They also claim an ancient fire ceremony, rebirth ceremony and Love Energized free form dancing removes traumatic memories enabling one to attain Enlightenment and be ready to be taught their Evolutionary Love Burst Techniques where “an ancient “Love Foam” Ceremony coats, or covers one’s traumatic and unpleasant memories, a process that dulls one’s perceptions of past traumatic experiences in life”.

  4. blueballs says:

    I have been reading about this treatment method with “love bursts”. It sounds quite unusual but I would give it a try mainly because it avoids drugs and the endless analysis and patchwork solutions that are currently in use. Maybe we have just been skimming the surface when it comes to love and this might be a way to understand its practical applications. Thanks Aiden.

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  6. jtxmisc says:

    is good artikel Thank you so much , Adwin

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