Sunday, February 10, 2013

of deserts & rivers

a very old typewriter, Amherst History museum

Fate is fickle.(Trust
it or not) It's better than a bullet
but strikes just as hard.
Especially endings.

Seats at McDonald's are not made for comfort, bite the backside and work the butt, numb. No one is here this time of morning. Breakfast is being prepped by workers moving slow, left then right. The coffee is hot though. Everything he owns is in a canvas bag by his feet.

Exiting the bus, they told him, 'You can't stay here, but there is a McDonald's where you can wait for the next bus.'

An hour from home and only three  or four to wait to make the last leg. It doesn't make sense sometimes. Life or the situation. He raises the cup, letting the heat gnaw his lip. Another drink. Another drink. All he ever wanted to do was serve.

Taking a wad of neatly folded paper from his back pocket, he flattens the stack to the table top in front of him. Medical discharge. Unfit to serve. The bus driver's words, 'You can't stay here,' loop his thoughts.

'Is it always like this?'

His hands evidence weeks of boot camp, PT voluntarily endured for years to prepare, pages turned in books he's studied all his life, hopes and dreams. Sometimes it seems just when you figure it out, life changes.

Headlights carve the street out the window, leave the night even darker. Whose fault is it, when it is no one's and we've done everything right? Otherwise fit, the body he worked to hone, betrayed him.

'What's next?'

There is no easy answer, other than there is a next. At times it's hard to see. Only, 'You can't stay here.' He stands, moves to the counter, refills his coffee & turns to the table again.

A face he hasn't seen in months, only hear on the phone line when allowed to call, comes through the door---his mother. They hug, hard and she consoles him in words he can't hear, not yet.

'I didn't want you to have to wait,' she explains.

Breaking the embrace, he retrieves his bag, they exit and he places it in the trunk. Looking back at the empty booth, the questions turn again, as they will---the same ones I have turned a thousand times.

The car door clunks loud behind him, the ignition cranks & they pull out---head home. Lines blur on the road, unending to the horizon. Welcome home. Welcome home, it doesn't feel the same.

I know,
         welcome home.

Something I scribbled out in my notebook this morning. My nephew came home from boot camp yesterday. Medically discharged for something he could not control. My thoughts are with him as he figures out what is next over the coming weeks and months. I have been there.

77 comments:

Betsy Brock said...

1st?

Betsy Brock said...

Do I get a prize? :)

Betsy Brock said...

Aw..I'm so sorry! I remember his excitement at graduation and anticipation of serving...and his mom's anxiety, too. Hope he finds his niche...still has his whole life ahead! And I know you'll do your part to encourage him, too! :)

Mark said...

It's a shame he was medically discharged but in the long run maybe it's going to be better for him. I hope he can forge himself a new path in life.

Gloria said...

congrats Betsy you beat mary, Pat and others LOL

Gloria said...

what nice Im sure you will support him:)

Poet Laundry said...

My husband had a similar situation with the military. And he was devastated and unsure of what to do. He'd wanted to serve so badly. Ultimately this 'setback' lead to him becoming a firefighter, meeting me and the rest is history as they say. And he also found a path back into the military and served in the reserves. Geesh...I'm long winded this morning...anyway I was saying all this to say that sometimes when the path seems chosen for us, and life serves us lumps...there are brighter days ahead we may not be able to imagine. Cool he has you there to encourage him Brian. Thanks for sharing!

Daniel said...

We all have been there. In fact, some of us are still there despite our best efforts. Sigh.

Myrna R. said...

I hope he is well and his future is good. This is a tough lesson but hopefully he'll learn whatever it is the bullet of fate is trying to teach him. Sorry you went through the same but I suppose it's one of the experiences that now make you the sensitive poet you are.

rosaria williams said...

These are the stories that don't get written. So much pain, out there, for this boy, for many. What next, indeed!

Anne said...

To want to serve ones country and be unable to do so must be a had thing for a lad to face. I hope the condition he has is not life-threatening. I believe in God and feel that in disappointment there is purpose. My best wishes to you nephew.

Leovi said...

Excellent, life happens and changes, the books remain unchanged.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

A lot of times when things like this happen, new career paths are discovered serendipitously...

Claudia said...

so tough when dreams die, when what we want to do most is just not possible for a reason that is beyond our control..think most of us were there at a certain point of our lives.. the worst probably-- this feeling to be unwanted.. you can't stay here... good that he has a family to help him get over it and hope he finds a new dream and one day can look back, happy how things developed..

Manicddaily said...

Agh. Terrible to have redefine our future, though maybe his problem would have hurt him further overseas. My sense is that the troops have it pretty bad in Afghanistan right now - mission so confused - and they so vulnerable.

Of course, it's difficult though. So nice to have a loving mom. k.

CiCi said...

"You can't stay here" sorta translated in one's mind to "You are not good enough". To not feel wanted can be devastating, but a kind mother's hug helps a young person cope and move on. I hope young people like the one in this post can learn to move forward with eagerness and enthusiasm. Very nice writing.

Pat Hatt said...

Fate can sure be a fickle pain in the rump
Hope he can find something and get over the hump
And that it isn't life threatening too
Sure there is a plan or reason somewhere even if it does suck big time on first view
And yeah those seats suck
On the Mcdonald's spent no more than a buck

Green Speck said...

This is what life is all about !!!

Mary said...

Whew, a powerful write this morning, Brian. Yes, what next for your nephew? What next for so many? It is a haunting question....to which the only answer is "Something."

Sue said...

Not an easy situation. Hope he finds a new direction soon. As always, there is much to be learned from this experience.

I guess we all go through it, in one way or another, again and again.

"/

A said...

Well written, and even though I don't know him, my thoughts are with him this day.

Gail said...

"Whose fault is it, when it is no one's and we've done everything right?"

Tears in my eyes, I wish I could make it right for him, knowing how much he wanted this.

Thanks for linking.

Mama Zen said...

That is so sad.

Taylor Wilson said...

It makes you think about what is really important.

Heaven said...

I enjoyed the scene unfolding in MacDonald's, learning his story,and asking "What's next?" That is too bad, but he will find his own path again. My sis was in a similar situation, but she eventually found her way back~

Love the ending words, welcome home is where we will always find ourselves ~ Happy Sunday ~

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Such a difficult place to be--Brian--your piece shows how much empathy you feel for him--what a big heart you have

anthonynorth said...

I sympathise. My military service ended through medical problems. A tricky time, what to do? Where's a role? I turned my energies away from the physical - no longer capable - and put them into writing.

Laurie Kolp said...

Ar first I thought it might be you... and I really like "There is no easy answer, other than there is a next." Your nephew has lots of great support to help him adjust, I'm sure... one of life's curve balls, though.

Dick said...

A strong sense of the atmosphere of place and incident in this one, Brian.

Maggie May said...

That was very moving. You wrote it very well.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

A Cuban In London said...

He's got a whole future ahead of him but the disappointment of being discharged probably still lingers. I loved your observations and descriptions. Many thanks.

Re my post, in Twitter times, a Twitter-like story! :-) Just 140 characters, hence the title.

Greetings from London.

TALON said...

That's such a difficult decison...hopefully he'll figure out what door is opening next for him, Brian.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Wishing your nephew an easy transition. I can't imagine any returning troops seamlessly glide back into life.

McGuffy Ann said...

I hope he finds his way. I was going into the military, after being in ROTC. It is hard to find new dreams when ones you held so strongly are broken. Peace.

Ravenblack said...

That's tough. It seems a bit brighter that he has family support but uncertainly (understandably) still weighs on his mind.

All the best to your nephew.

Marie Nicole said...

I've been there too. Different situation, but totally the same because when you're waiting for a bus in a strange town and you have no clue what's next it's always the same thing, right?

wovendreamsprompts said...

That's sad about your nephew but I hope he finds an alternate path that will lead to happiness. Sometimes, these turns in the road don't seem fair or make sense at the time, but looking back, often they are the best thing that could have happened, all things considered.

I enjoyed reading this Brian!

Happy Week, G

Ténèbres à la lumière... said...

"Fate is fickle.(Trust
it or not) It's better than a bullet, but strikes just as hard.
Especially endings..."


Hi! Brian...
Thanks, for sharing the image Of [a very old typewriter, Amherst History museum"] and your very descriptive poem as you re-live" with your readers,[your feelings,thoughts...]and your nephew's emotions [reactions] after he was medically discharge after applying to serve.
[Here's wishing him the best now and in the future...too!]

deedee :)

Annmarie Pipa said...

my faith is all I have when nothing in life makes sense..a crutch we could all use at times. my husbands dad was unable to serve during WW2..he ended up playing football at PSU...sometimes God has other plans for us.

Suz said...

This was not the path
...but the path will appear
and for now he has family
to support and comfort him
..what most people seek anyway
...but a career will come
...life provides to the willing

loving write

Vicki Lane said...

You can't stay here -- what chilling words. Blessings to your nephew -- may he find the path Suz speaks of...

PattiKen said...

"Something I scribbled..." You never cease to amaze me, Brian. Awesome write.

Jen said...

I've often wondered why they are so quick to medically discharge. I can understand why he can't be a S.E.A.L. or in combat infantry, but so many jobs in today's military engage the enemy from hundreds of miles away. A waste of talent that wants to serve...

Cloudia said...

Bri, you share such humanity with us, and no doubt with the humans lucky enough to share your world. Bless you, your nephew and the rest.

Aloha to YOU all
from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >

Cloudia said...

"His whole life is ahead"

mywordwall said...

Oh, I ope your nephew is ok and get his bearings soon.

I remember an anecdote/story I heard a long time ago:
"A farmer's son broke his leg. People were sorry for the son. The farmer said 'good or bad, who knows?' Soon, the son was called for a draft but he was sent home because of the broken leg. People said - 'good for you'. The farmer responded - "good or bad, who knows?'

I hope that one day, in God's hands, this event will make sense for your nephew. I wish him the best.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

So sad, but still best to catch these things early.

Good job conveying all the trauma and pain of this experience.

kaykuala said...

Life's misery come in many forms. It is sad but it comes from growing up. Many face disappointments in little ways but it bodes well for the future for some. A different vocation may make him shine in more ways in others. Have gone through it too! It'll be ok for him, I'm sure! Thanks for sharing, Brian! Many can relate to this certainly!

Hank

farawayinthesunshine said...

I know it sounds cheesy...but I believe it's for the best...no matter how sad or unfair it must seem right now...

I did go out for the walk I intended ;-)

Happy Monday to you Brian

Paul said...

It is hard when your hopes and dreams are shattered. You have a unique and captivating way of expressing yourself.

Valerie said...

I hope the unfairness doesn't linger in his mind. With encouragement and love he will hopefully move on to better things.

(PS Is it an achievement to be last...wink)

Dave King said...

I've known two youngsters in this situation just recently -- one my own Grandson, and you express the heartbreak and the worries of "what next" with an amazing clarity. Sometimes what is scribbled in a notebook - and may then be overlooked for years - turns out to be e defining work. Don't ever rewrite this -- or if you do, keep this version safe.

Lorraine said...

I agree with Dave, life can be so harsh sometimes, and some people have no one, no one to help them, he's lucky that he does...

Nimue said...

Most touching.
Specially the part of the mother.. Aren't mothers always so caring and supporting !

Best wishes to the young man :)

Alan Burnett said...

Beautifully written, infused with real feeling.

Cinner said...

Oh so sad Brian, hopes and dreams dashed and one does wonder what is next. I know I still do....a beautiful write Brian. Don't ever stop writing, your amazing.

DJan said...

Well done, dreams dashed and that door slammed in his face, with no new one yet revealed. I felt it, too.

dsnake1 said...

fate can be pretty cruel, isn't it?

and yes, sometimes scribbled words can turn out to be gems, as this piece shows.

The Empress said...

What a read.

I feel his pain, because I know so much now.

Of the amount that people bury. How scared they can be to share. How if only they knew, we will listen.

We can listen, and sometimes, you just need to let the demon out. Whatever it is.

Much love to him. He is lucky to have you in his life.

turtlememoir said...

i feel for him - hard when everything you've wanted, worked for... & just like that you're booted off that path... & hard to even imagine a 'next' from where they dump you at the side of some road, "you can't stay here" just feeling like another kick...
at least he is loved, that's something

a poignant & powerful write, brian

Tara Miller said...

I know this is something he's wanted for a long time but ultimately feel this is God's way of intervening and sending him down the path He has chosen for him. I'm sure he doesn't understand now but hope that one day he'll look back and be thankful for that door being closed. He's so smart, focused and such a good guy all around, I'm sure whatever he does in life he will be successful. Thanks for writing this my love. You touch my heart....

flaubert said...

Vivid! I could hear every nuance in this piece, Brian. I especially like this part;

"Headlights carve the street out the window, leave the night even darker. Whose fault is it, when it is no one's and we've done everything right? Otherwise fit, the body he worked to hone, betrayed him."

Man, I wish I had written that. Really good.

Pamela

hedgewitch said...

So hard for the young, especially, to accept that there are walls and can'ts and losses they will never make good. Glad he had a mother to hold him, and a home to return to, even if it isn't the same.

Alice Audrey said...

I had a friend who faced something like this. For her it was flat feet. That was all it took for her to lose the only career she was interested in. She was looking into surgery, but didn't have the money.

Lyn said...

"Just when you figure it out"...exactly right! Living for next time...I swear this says it..perfect!

ladyfi said...

What a touching story.

. said...

I have no military experience, but feel for him in different ways ...

Laurie said...

so beautifully written, so sad, yet happy,

Sheila said...

such an empathetic write for your nephew. a felt piece.

ayala said...

So sorry, Brian. My thoughts and good wishes to him and the whole family :(

Margaret said...

Sometimes it seems just when you figure it out, life changes.

A hard lesson to learn for one so young. He's lucky, he has a family that cares. Nice, moving write.

Helena White said...

Sometimes things are meant to be, even at the time we not realize why, then months, years down the road it all becomes clear. Thanks for stopping by Brian, you are the best! ♥ ஆ

Steve E said...

Realizing this is NOT the point of such a beauty of a story, I was turned on by the coolness of this line, re coffee:

"He raises the cup, letting the heat gnaw his lip."

Surely your nephew's experience is but a single brush stroke on a long and exciting life ahead, fitting itself into a plan of the Almighty.

Pray it be so.

DAMMMMM, you write so well! smiles

adeeyoyo said...

This cuts right into my heart, Brian. I am so sorry. But he is loved and I am sure that things will work out in the end if he has faith. I can relate only too well.

Cheryl said...

While something inside me breaks a little for him, I believe there's a reason for this and when he's called to something else, he'll be available to step up and shine.

RMP said...

the opening is stunning and leads so beautifully into the story. oh, and such a touching write.

Syd said...

Such a tough thing to hear--You can't stay here.
I hope that he find something that he enjoys.