What does the little man inside say?

The Depression Monster is riding my back. It’s at minor annoyance level.  I’m a bit surprised by my suspicions of why I’m feeling low.  I think it’s because I’m studying Stevie Nicks, and I’ve come to a rough point in her past.  I’m at the overwhelming betrayal:  She was told she had to stop using cocaine or she’d die. Clearly, she stopped.  When she was recovering from addiction to cocaine, she was prescribed Klonopin.  It led to a worse addiction.  That’s a pretty big mind fuck.  I’m experiencing it retroactively, but apparently, my empathy didn’t get the memo.

I paused the documentary at that point to process what I’ve learned so far.  Fame is ugly.  It’s not new information, but watching Fleetwood Mac lose their innocence was hard.  I now know Rumours was created from pain.  They were all experiencing raw grief.  The successful album says a lot about their professionalism and abilities.  Most people don’t want anything badly enough to endure such circumstances.  They were about to make it big, but I don’t think they knew it.  They certainly earned it.

It bugs me something so sought after is basically a trap.  A trap for drug addiction, and a new type of loneliness exclusive to famous people.  It triggers my protective nature.  Fuck the universe for tempting so many people to strive for fame before revealing it’s true nature.  People don’t like to be fucked with, especially not after pouring everything they have into reaching for excellence.  Fuck.  Also, the men interviewed in this documentary are pissing me off.  They’re music producers from the late 70’s, which is probably enough explanation.

They’re accidentally doing a fairly good job of conveying how things went down, but you have to read between the lines.  They’re inarticulate and behave like frenemies at best, ex-lovers at worst.  Nobody is watching this documentary to hear about how butt-hurt the producers are decades after the fact.  Besides, Gen X women know misogyny speak fluently.  When men describe a woman as a bitch, diva, full of herself, bossy, and/or demanding, we are aware it actually means she was a formidable leader.  It says she didn’t submit to male dominance.  It means she’s someone worthy of our attention.

I’m noticing similarities between Stevie Nicks and Carrie Fisher.  They’re both survivors and storytellers.  They’re understandable to me.  I’ve probably stated this many times, but understanding is the path to love.  When you understand someone, you can’t help but love them.  Loving those who don’t know I even exist is surprisingly delightful.  It’s a safe secret.  I’m not very good at being a fan of famous people.  I rarely go to concerts because the other fans scare the shit out of me.  I’m pretty sure a lot of famous people have been traumatized by their fans.  We should rename fame.  It should be called Public Pain.  (I’m a huge fan of stating what’s meant.)

I can’t recall ever meeting anyone famous.  It’s a perk of living in South Dakota.  We’ve all rehearsed how we plan to act should it ever occur, but even my rehearsals haven’t gone well.  My imagination is kind of an asshole.  I’m barely able to manage it, (mostly because it amuses me too much to try very hard.)  The only famous person I’m confident I could meet (without regretting my behavior ever after) would be Michelle Obama.  I know exactly how that would go down.  She’d smile and offer to shake my hand, and I’d immediately start bawling.  I wouldn’t be ashamed because I know so many who would react exactly the same way.  (She’s probably used to it.)

I know I’m rambling on and on, but I can’t help myself.  I haven’t spoken to anyone but my cat in a few days.  (It was deliberate, but I’m an inch away from too weird, to begin with.)  So here we are.  I still have a profound sense the end of my life is impending.  It’s been over six months, but the feeling hasn’t waivered.  I hate to admit it, but I’m enjoying the planning process.  (I think it’s just that I like planning in general.)  I’m at a point now where I recognize I need to write a short story about my childhood nightmares.  It’ll be a cleansing.  I’ve always been reluctant to write it because it’s a horror story and it’s not reality.

I would suck as an author.  I have the discipline and imagination.  I don’t have the thingamajig required to convince anyone a fantasy is real.  The things I love most about novels are things I’m only capable of recognizing, not reproducing.  I’m pretty sure identifying them is more fun, though.  I don’t do the foreshadowing dance anymore, but I still get a burst of joy every time I recognize it on a first read.  That’s a lot of mileage considering I was in primary school when I learned of it.  But as a writer, I don’t foreshadow, I announce in advance.  Sigh.  Sophistication is a bitch.

Why give me comprehension without the skill?  That’s fucking mean.  But I’m not complaining, just rambling.  I’ve managed to put off this short story for most of my life.  I guess it’s time to purge it.  I’m extremely curious about what comes after life if anything.  I’m mostly sure the answer is nothing.  The thing I like most about that possibility is its nature; there can be no regrets.  The itsy bitsy chance someone imagined it right, or even close, is still enough to get lost in for a while.  It bothers me a bit that I’m not grieving, though.  Does it mean I’m ready?  We’ll see.  I’m off to beat my drums.

 

 

 

 

Maybe they’re admiring your spot.

I’m having second thoughts about my job.  They’re premature.  Tomorrow, I’m going to share with my boss a significant time saver for the project workflow.  You’d think I learned in the Army not to make efficiency suggestions.  That would only be correct when dealing with an institution that honors tradition.  The Army is big on tradition.  It annoyed me at first.  Eventually, I learned a lot about them and used that information to win free trips all over Europe by competing in knowledge boards.

I still think of more efficient ways of doing whatever I’m doing while I’m doing it.  It’s how I’m wired.  I suspect it’s related to my impatience.  The problem is I’m using my idle thought time to think about how I could be idling more efficiently.  I wondered if I needed to get away from computers at work altogether.  We’ll see how it goes after my suggestion.  If I don’t bring it up, it’ll bug me.

I’ve always wanted to work in a factory.  They fascinate me.  I regularly binge on How It’s Made on Netflix.  I get so absorbed.  The weirdest part is I can’t shake the feeling that knowing how to make things is going to be important in the future.  It’s illogical and dramatically negative for no reason, but I feel it all the same.  I watch media like I’m going to be tested later.  I have an unconscious tendency to memorize the dialogue of TV and movies.  I guess that was obvious based on how I title my posts.  I don’t understand this obsession, but I’m pleased with it.  I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I met someone else who does it too.  That was a day I’ll remember for a long time.  We recited some of our favorite lines back and forth for a while, typing madly.  I love connecting with someone naturally.

Sometimes, neurotypical people will deliberately engage with me in a manner they know I appreciate.  In my case, this means asking me a leading question about computers, paying enough attention to know when to ask another, and letting me type until I get distracted, which won’t be for at least 20 minutes.  While this is happening, I’m aware of what they’re doing for me.  It’s the equivalent of giving me a significant portion of candy for no reason.

I think I should be bothered in instances where it’s obvious the person is faking interest, but instead, I think it’s adorable.  It doesn’t ruin my enjoyment.  I believe I’ve mentioned I’m unsophisticated.  One of the perks of being unsophisticated is not knowing when I should be embarrassed or offended much of the time.  I’m not self-conscious, but I’m more aware of the concept than I used to be.  At this pace, I’ll take a selfie when I’m 80.

Seventy days passed quickly.  I’m pleased with how much I’ve accomplished in that time.  I’ve laughed and smiled far more than I’ve cried.  I’ve spent time doing my favorite things.  I ended my role as a leader.  I’m behaving a lot like an Objectivist, which amuses me.  My stomach is in knots in anticipation of the inauguration.  I need to order a helmet.  I had a nightmare that I got my head bashed in by some sheeple who were worked into a hateful frenzy and sent out hunting for chances to be evil.

I know my dreams are merely reflecting fears I don’t allow in my consciousness.  However, I’ve discovered addressing them in a literal way eliminates the nightmares.  I don’t want to move to Canda or any other country.  I’m going down with the ship.  When Michelle Obama said there’s no more hope, my heart sank.  I don’t think I’ll live beyond the next four years.  I’ll be surprised if I make it a year.  I’m not sad about that.  I’m sad that I won’t get to finish my projects.  Strongly suspecting I’m going to get killed soon isn’t as stressful as I would have thought.  It’s too abstract to process, so it’s just there.  I saw some propaganda encouraging people to hurt Jews in a particular state.  I hope nobody is dumb enough to act on it.  It’s death penalty state.

We all know if someone is dumb enough to act on it, and ends up dead or on death row, whoever put out the call for violence will say it was a joke and suffer no consequences.  The instigators and puppet masters aren’t subject to the laws that govern regular people like you and me.  Don’t be a puppet for someone else’s agenda.  Make wise choices that include tomorrow.  Hate is a terrible reason to ruin your life.  We’re all one dumb decision away from destruction.

I know a secret

I got a little sleep.  Probably about 4 hours.  Good enough.  Two of the women I follow on twitter lost a parent yesterday.  I know how horrific that can be, and both are completely leveled by it.  I think one of the worst parts is the disbelief that you can survive without them.  It’s really hard to have the rug you’ve been standing on your entire life yanked out from under you.  It can make an adult feel like a helpless child instantly.  Intellectually, you berate yourself for feelings that don’t feel age appropriate.  But emotionally, it’s exactly how it feels.  It takes a while to make that final step forward, and recognize the fact that you will be able to go on living, even after your parent has died.  By a while, I mean a long time that can’t be measured in clock time.  The healing is internal.  The process of becoming your own parent is scary, painful, and hard to wrap your mind around.

But it can be done.  I know this because I did it.  Eventually.  And with much reluctance.  Because it’s not fair for parents to die.  They should live as long as their offspring.  With some exceptions, parents are a necessary support system for feeling okay about living on this world full of hatred, ugliness, beauty, and delight.  Life is hard.  Life without a parent is harder.  Being your own parent and continuing to go on sucks.  It’s a victory, but it still sucks.  Because you’ll always have that painful scar from the loss.  We all live with pain.  But that doesn’t make it suck any less.  I feel strong empathy for my friends who are suffering so much right now.  I can’t do or say anything to help them feel better, no matter how much I wish I could.  All I can do is acknowledge the ache in my own heart, and remember how vulnerable, and leveled they are now, and will be for a long time.

I think we are all connected on an invisible level.  I believe this, because I want to believe it.  I’m not religious by any stretch, but I do feel a connection to all that is alive.  I know that any love and good thoughts I aim in the direction of another will be accepted on some level.  I’m glad of this.  It allows me to share the love in my heart without the physical connection that causes me so much anxiety.  I always picture people in my minds eye as children.  I think we’re all children internally.  I think adulthood is masks and responsibilities.  Shhhh.

Missing Heather

I miss my little sister.  She’s in my dreams a lot.  So are my Mom, and brother, Steve.  A shrink would probably tell me that ‘I have unresolved feelings regarding family members who have passed’.  Then I would ask for my money back, because duh.  But then, I wouldn’t tell a shrink something so personal.  I reserve my innermost thoughts and feelings for total strangers on the internet.  That’s a joke, in case it wasn’t obvious.  I’m usually the only one who gets my jokes.

I remember this day.  I had a red tricycle.  This was our front courtyard and we would ride in circles around the tree in the center.  She was so adorable.  Her nickname was, “Smiley”.  Sigh.

This is me and Heather playing with the neighbor kids.  Heather’s little belly sticking out.  So cute.  Clearly, I was never into fashion.

This is the most recent photo before she died.  Someone on Twitter mistook a sarcastic comment I made earlier while playing a hashtag game, and stated I was to blame for the gun problem in America.  It hit me hard.  I lashed out and told him to fuck off.  I have since apologized.  I’ve since been crying, and I can’t stop.  I miss Heather so much.  I hate guns.  I hate that their main purpose is to kill.  Their second most used purpose is for practicing in order to kill more efficiently.  I know too well what it feels like to have someone you love suddenly ripped from your world.  I wish it had been me.

Once Upon a Time

It’s officially Thanksgiving Day here.  I don’t celebrate holidays.  I’ve learned too much truth since becoming an adult.  This particular holiday is the worst one in my opinion.  Today marks the day that the genocide of humans with brown skin began.  Starting with the spread of disease to the Natives in America during the festive feast day.  We’ll never know how many were killed in the initial onslaught of smallpox, and the like.  That, of course, was followed up with war, massacre, and the systematic stripping of all Native heritage, which was forcibly replaced with Christianity.  We took their lives, their land, their pride, and their livelihood.  But that wasn’t enough.  We even went after their spirituality.  And when we were done, we forced them to live in poverty on reservations of land we didn’t want.

Of course, there were a few times that the land turned out to have value, such as gold or oil.  Then we took it back, and told them to move.  I can’t think of a single atrocity that wasn’t committed against the Native peoples of this continent.  If I left one out, I don’t want to know about it.  I can’t sleep as it is.  I feel the weight of the evil perpetrated on the Native Americans.  I feel guilty.  I didn’t exist at the time, and had no voice to object to these actions.  But I have always lived on their land.  When I discovered how we acquired these lands in graphic detail and photos, I didn’t run away in horror.  I stayed and continued living my life.  I didn’t know where to go or how to get there when I was a child.

After I got my drivers license and a car, I drove to the nearest reservation and asked to speak with the chief.  An old man came and talked to me.  I don’t know if he was the chief, or if they even had one.  I knew nothing of tribal government at that time.  I apologized for living on their lands.  He didn’t say anything to that.  He didn’t forgive me, or tell me to burn in hell.  Just silence.  I took his non-response to mean, “Live with this knowledge.”  It wasn’t a friendly chit chat by any stretch.  Some questions I asked, he ignored.  After the silence went on for a while, I’d ask a different question.  I didn’t know how to tell if someone was angry or bitter at that time.  I’m pretty sure I still don’t.  So I don’t know how he felt about my showing up with questions out of the blue.

Part of me expected him to impart some wisdom on me, and tell me that they recognized my brown skin as a commonality among us, along with the struggle it causes.  Instead, he told me that most of them didn’t like black people.  It hurt my feelings, and made me feel a little bit unsafe.  He went on to say that he didn’t hate black people.  He said we’re all niggers to the white man.  The Natives are prairie niggers, and I was just a regular nigger.  It was my first time hearing the term prairie nigger.  Not my last.  The entire exchange showed me that I was ignorant of their culture, even though I felt like I was part of it because of my Native foster siblings.  It was a hard day.  I was 14 at that time.  I went back several times after that with more questions.

The east river tribes are Oglala.  They have it better than the west river folks on Pine Ridge reservation.  My Mom refused to accept foster babies from Pine Ridge.  I never got an answer out of her as to why this was the case.  I figured it was too far away.  It’s about a 5-7 hour drive, depending on whether or not you’re afraid of highway patrolman.  It’s flat and you can see for miles in all directions.  You can drive for an hour without seeing a single other vehicle.  So if you want to drive 90 MPH, and your car is in good repair, go for it.  Just slow down if you see a patrol car in the median.  I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket, and I drive 90 when I go west.  And south.  I did get pulled over in Nebraska or Iowa.  I just got a warning.  I was doing 85 MPH in a 75 MPH zone.  Like it matters at that point.

I went to a few Powwows.  I liked seeing them fully dressed in headdresses and the rest of the garb.  They dance and sing and beat on drums.  The things I noticed that are differences are that the Lakota people speak with an accent that is very distinct to my ears.  And their urine smells different than African and Caucasian urine.  It’s sweeter smelling.  I know that’s a strange thing to observe, but when you consider how I helped my Mom with the foster babies, it’s easier to understand.  My Mom used cloth diapers, and safety pins with plastic protectors on them.  I never changed a single diaper.  I didn’t have the dexterity and strength in my hands to safely replace the pins.  My Mom would have me stand beside the changing table and make sure the baby stayed on it while she answered the phone sometimes, though.

I’m sensitive to odors.  In my last apartment, the teenaged girl who lived above me spilled her nail polish remover on the kitchen counter, and I smelled it in my apartment.  When I asked her about it, she thought it was amazing that I could smell it.  Amazing is not the word I would have chosen.  Sensitivity to odors is a curse.  Try running in formation while several guys around you are sweating out Tequila from the night before.  They weren’t the only ones sprinting to the curb periodically to vomit.  But I’d rather run with that all day than get in an elevator with a guy who bought into those Axe commercials.

I know a lot of people who have no idea that Native Americans still exist.  They live their entire lives without thinking about them a single time.  It’s a hidden problem.  Most stay on or near the reservations.  Many join the military, but are often thought of as Latinos.  I don’t fault them for the misidentification.  It’s purely ignorance, not malice.  So many people grow up without ever being exposed to people of color.  They see us on TV or in movies, but that’s the extent of their knowledge.  And TV and movies are fantasy.  You can’t rely on the information, and should probably assume it’s wrong until you have a chance to do your own research.

I grew up in a city that was named, The Whitest City In America, by U.S. News and World Report magazine.  I wasn’t surprised.  I was the only black kid in my school district at times.  Heather was a year behind me, so each time I advanced to a new school, I had to be the only black kid all over again until my Junior year in High School.  Then a few black families moved into town.  I hated school until university.  I did well on the Iowa Basics, PSAT, and SAT.  I made the honor role each time.  I also had the record for most days missed.  I skipped a lot.  My Mom got tired of fighting to get me to go.  My last semester was at Augustana University as a compromise to my desire to drop out.  I liked that much better.  I lost my High School Diploma after only looking at it once.  It probably ended up with Heather.  After she died, my sister, Greta, went through her things.  I was too stunned to be of any assistance at that time.  I don’t communicate with Greta.  She’s a sociopath, and tried to kill me when I was an infant.

The last time we spoke, she told me that my Mom should never have adopted us. (Me, Heather, and Steve).  It was creepy.  She doesn’t communicate with any of my remaining siblings.  My Mom had a strained relationship with her.  She came to visit once, and stayed with my brother, Guy.  While he was at work, she snooped through every inch of his house.  I don’t remember how he found out, but he vowed to never allow her in his home again.  The older, birth kids were not close.  There’s a lot of history that I probably won’t get into much.  My oldest brother, Gary, was forced to get shock treatments when he was a teenager.  I think it had something to do with depression and drug use.  I wasn’t alive yet.  I overheard that he never forgave my Mom for putting him through that.

I only saw him a few times in my life.  My impression was that he was my coolest brother.  I was completely fascinated by him, and loved him immediately.  He was soft spoken, and quiet, but when he did speak, it was deep and wise to me.  He even looks gentle.  I’m glad I got to meet him, even if it was just those few times.  I never met Skip.  He was my Dads oldest son from his previous marriage.  Skip moved to Canada during the Vietnam war and never came back for obvious reasons.  The 60’s had a clear impact on my older siblings.  I have mental images of how they dressed, and the music they favored when I was young.  Bell bottom corduroy pants in a burnt sienna brown that made a swoosh noise when my brother walked.  But I don’t remember which brother, or any other part of the clothing.  Weird.

I should be sleeping as it’s the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.  I couldn’t sleep knowing today will be celebrated by millions of oblivious or callous Americans by stuffing themselves with food, watching football, and the like.  I doubt the vast majority will think about the Natives at all.  And if they do, they will think of them as Indians, even though it’s an incredibly ignorant way of thinking.  It blows my mind that it’s 2015, and most people still refer to Natives as Indians.  There is even a school debate topic titled Indian Country, that was drafted here in South Dakota, within a few miles of a reservation.  When I told them how astonished I was that it was being used, they told me that it was okay, because the Indians are okay with it.  Unfuckingbelievable.

Reality is more like, they asked 1 Native about it, and he or she didn’t care either way, and just wanted to go about his or her business.  They became the spokesperson for all Natives on the issue, and validated the ignorance yet again.  Obviously, it wasn’t going to get changed no matter what the Native they asked thought about it.  If 100 Natives gathered outside the building where this decision was made, and peacefully protested to show their disgust at the ignorance, it wouldn’t have made any difference.  They do what the fuck they want to do, and we have no right to feel offended by it.  America.  Where you can buy absolute power in order to practice absolute corruption.  The peasant majority doesn’t know they are the peasants yet.  Denial is strong.  White people are not used to being subjugated by other white people on this scale, and have a hard time recognizing when it’s happening.

So we peasants, in our denial, fight against one another, causing the corruptors to gain even more power. Until finally, many band together in order to kill off the rest of us with brown skin.  And then we all lived happily ever after.  The End.  Sigh.

I Remember

******Trigger Warning********– (graphic violence, homicide)

I’m so tired.  I lay in bed for 2 hours, but didn’t sleep.  I’m on vacation, so I’m allowed to goof off right now.  That was directed at the guilt I’m feeling because I haven’t written any code today.  Last night after I set up my new Xbox One, and waited forEVER for Halo 5 to update, I started shaking.  This has happened before.  It sucks.  I broke into a sweat, and my vision started to go black.  Then I fainted.  I was halfway to the floor by then because I knew it was coming, so I wasn’t hurt.  It’s called a Vasovagal response.

It’s no big deal.  But in the brief time I’m experiencing it, it feels pretty bad.  I’m assuming this was due to a combination of lack of sleep, forgetting to eat, and being triggered.  It’s kind of ironic how I got triggered.  I was watching PBS, and they were doing a show about veterans for the holiday.  I paid attention to the beginning when they followed a few soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and were home and trying to get on with their lives.  One was attending university, and another was reunited with his wife.  Before I clued in on the fact that I needed to change the channel, they started showing extremely graphic images of dead bodies in Iraq.  I was looking right at the TV when they showed one.

When I regained consciousness probably moments later, my cat was sitting beside me on the floor.  Anytime I’m on the floor, it’s a signal to her that I’m open to playing with her, so she must have wondered what was up.  I sat up slowly, and then got up and made something to eat. I sat at the counter and started eating my peanut butter sandwich, with my cat under my chair.  I didn’t change the channel, I shut the TV off completely, so it was quiet.

As I sat there, I made the mistake of wondering what caused the episode.  Bad move.  My mind threw up the graphic image again, and I pushed it away as fast as I could.  Then my mind started to wander back to when I was in the service.  My first permanent duty station was where I was stationed the longest.  I did a lot of growing up during the five years I was there.  I was pretty naive.  People I worked with directly used to say, “Earth to Special K, come in Special K”, a lot, because my Sergeant said it once, and they thought it was hilarious.  Special K was my nickname there.

I was kind of in my own world, I suppose.  I also would sing without realizing it, and the guys I worked with would join in to bring it to my attention.  Again, they thought it was hilarious.  I got on well with them, though.  My Sergeant was from Panama, and had 2 little boys.  I spent a lot of time with her and her kids.  She was one of the senior NCO’s in my unit, which meant she had a lot of responsibility and power.  She was like a second Mom to me in many ways.  She was the most amazing person I had the pleasure of meeting while serving, and that’s saying a lot, as I met a lot of amazing people during that time.

She was strict, demanded your best at all times, and looked out for her people like a lioness with her cubs.  She made you want to do a good job, because getting praised by her was a rare but wonderful thing when it happened.  I had trouble making friends in the Army too.  I had a lot of friendly acquaintances, but a lot of the women considered me too young to hang out with.  I was one of about 4 people on the entire post who were under 18, which was the legal drinking age there.  So going to the club was out at first.  I spent all my free time at the education center, or with my Sergeants kids.

After our first field problem, I met a woman from Jamaica.  She didn’t like me at first, because I kept following her around, asking her to pronounce words, then giggling when she complied.  She was a medic and was super feisty.  She was married, and had recently given birth to a son.  I must have grown on her, because before long, we became good friends.  She lived off post in an apartment complex.  Her younger sister was coming to visit for her 18th birthday, and I was invited to attend the party.  Our unit had a parade that day, and she was covering it with the ambulance.

As was always the case, about an hour into the parade, I fainted.  I just can’t stand at attention for long periods in 90+ degree weather.  When I fell out, the ones standing around me in formation saw it coming and propped me up until the medics came and dragged me away.  While I was recovering with an IV in the ambulance, she told me her husband was coming home.  He was in our unit before I arrived, and had since been sent to Korea.  Often, if you marry someone in your unit, one of you gets orders to go somewhere else soon afterward.

I rode with her back to my unit and changed into civilian clothes for the party.  I rode with a guy in my unit, and on the way there, we stopped for a bucket of KFC.  When we arrived, my friend was upstairs with her husband, and her sister was sitting on the sofa holding the baby.  I sat down beside her and started playing with the baby.  I don’t know where the guy I rode with was.  Probably in the bathroom.  A few minutes later, I heard some shouting coming from upstairs.  Then a really long, horrible moan from my friend.

Her husband came down the stairs really fast, and ran out the door.  My ride went after him.  I had a really bad feeling.  I knew something was wrong.  My friends sister grabbed my arm tightly, and we both started to cry.  I felt so numb.  I got up and started to climb the stairs.  Her sister started to follow me, and I told her no, stay with the baby.  I went up to the landing, and looked at the bloody handprint on the door.  For some reason, I couldn’t hear the baby crying anymore.  I felt like I was far away, and my body was an avatar I was operating.  I walked into the bedroom, and saw my friend laying across the bed.  Her head was bashed in, and her brain was showing.  There was a hammer on the floor that had blood and hair on it.

I turned around and started to walk down the stairs.  Her sister was in the process of coming up them, and I physically fought her back down the stairs and forced her out the door after taking the baby from her.  I still couldn’t hear.  I just remember it was so bright outside.  Her sister was still crying, but I don’t know if I was anymore.  My friends car was gone, and an ambulance was pulling into the parking lot.  I held the baby in one arm, and her sisters arm in my other hand.  It was the most surreal moment of my life.  And inside, I had a thought that still makes me feel ashamed.

I thought to myself, “She can’t be dead, she promised to braid my hair”.  I hate that I thought that at the worst possible moment.  I felt like the most selfish person who ever existed.  The police seemed to just appear out of nowhere, and one of them was a woman.  She came over and took the baby, then some other police started directing us to the back of the ambulance.  I was thinking they were confused, because I was fine, I didn’t need an ambulance.  Her sister clung to me, but I couldn’t feel it.  They took us back to the barracks.  It was on the news on TV that night.  Everyone in the barracks was so shocked.

It turned out that my friend was cheating on her husband, and someone in my unit wrote to him in Korea and told him about it.  He got leave, came home, and beat her to death with a hammer.  Then he took off when I saw him storming out of the apartment.  The guy I worked with ran after him.  Her husband confessed to him what he’d done, then drove into the canyon in an unsuccessful suicide attempt.  The guy I worked with called the police at the apartment office.  He came to check on me later that night, and explained things to me.  I never even knew she was cheating on her husband.

It had never occurred to me that someone could sleep with anyone other than their spouse.  This is what I meant about my being naive.  The murder divided our unit pretty much into men vs. women.  The guys thought he was justified in what he did.  The women thought it was monstrous.  He was arrested that night, and it went to trial.  Some of the guys had to testify, but I was never told the details.  He got 40 years in prison.  The sister took the baby home to Jamaica where her parents decided to raise him.

We were marched in formation to the chapel, where a pair of her combat boots, her dog tags, her medic arm band, and a photo sat at the altar.  We all filed up to it, one by one, and saluted.  The guy she was cheating with was weeping so hard a friend had to help him walk.  I was the other person weeping the entire time.  I was still in shock, and the crying just wouldn’t stop.  It wasn’t my first experience with death.  Some of the foster babies died in our home when I was a kid.  But this was the first time someone died when I was an adult.  It leveled me.

I started losing weight because I was too sad to eat.  I went down to the supply room in the basement to exchange my linens, and to my horror, the bloody mattress was propped against the wall near the armory.  Apparently, the supply people had to go to the apartment and pack up her stuff and clear out the apartment.  This is a typical example of how the mission always comes first, no matter what, in the military.  It didn’t matter that they all knew my friend, and were shaken up by what had happened.  It had to be done, so they did it.

I took one look at the mattress, and started screaming.  It was really weird, because I couldn’t stop at first.  It was like someone else was screaming.  My sergeant came and got me, and I stayed at her house for a few days to regroup.  Playing with her kids was just what I needed.  The sadness has always remained, but I’ve learned how to live with it.  I still have her medic arm band.  I think about her sometimes.  I have nightmares about it sometimes.  As far as I know, her husband is still in prison.  I sent letters back and forth with her sister for a few years, and in the last photo I got of the baby, he looked adorable.

It’s a violent world, the military.  There were 3 murders connected to my unit during my 5 years there.  But this is the one that continues to haunt me.  Maybe I’ll be able to sleep now that I got it out.