Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Your Voice Didn't Echo: A Letter to My Husband Upon His Return from Iraq

For the past six months, whenever I heard your voice, it was only the echo of your voice from 8,000 miles away... It was set against a backdrop of static, and the world sank into an eerie silence when it came through the telephone.

Last night, at 3 am, I heard your voice, but it did not echo. The eerie silence was gone, replaced by boisterous laughter and conversation and that reverberating hum that airports have, even in the middle of the night.

You sounded tired, but you didn't sound half-alive as you have for the past six months.

When it was time to hang up, there was no feeling of "what if" or fear or trepidation. Our parting was joyful and nonchalant, each of us secure in the knowledge that all was now well and you would be home in a few days, safe where you belong.

Today, when I saw the news report of soldiers killed in Iraq, I was able to mourn for those soldiers without wondering if you were one of them. I felt selfish, but at the same time I felt safe. I felt guilty, but at the same time I felt relieved.

Last night, while I waited for your call telling me you had arrived on US soil, I made my very first "Bring the Troops Home" highway banner with the leftover materials from your "Welcome Home" highway banner. I hung it on the fence across the street, facing the river and the Route 79 on-ramp. I feel like I can really fight now, now that I do not have to worry every day that you will not come home.

I am happy, for the first time in many months.

I am also sad, because too many other American families have not had this experience--they have not been able to celebrate a homecoming, because their soldiers have not come home--at least not as they should have.

War is ugly, and selfish, and it rips families and countries apart.

We owe it to ourselves to live in peace. We all claim to want it, but very few of us stand up and work for it.

I have tried to do my part--writing, joining other peaceful Americans and exercising the right to gather in protest, wearing a pin here or a t-shirt there, hanging my little sign in the window and my not-so-little banner on the highway... All in the hope that something I do will lodge in the heart of another American and make him/her question the purpose of doing battle with other human beings.

All in the hope that one thought might be sparked, one passion ignited, one harmful action undone...

Soon you will be here in our home again. But the fight continues for many thousands of other American troops, and the fight will go on until we are able to halt the war machine and teach our fellow Americans, and the rest of the world, that the way of guns and bombs and murder and rape and detainees and torture and violence is not the way to peace.

Peaceful actions bring peaceful time.

Stand with me, in solidarity, for peace.