Home Front

again. If he could just fall out of love with her, what

By the time this damn war's over, we'll have hundreds of thousands of severely traumatized soldiers trying to put the pieces of their lives back together.

Don’t be who you needed to be over there. Come home to the people who love you. I wish to hell I’d figured out a way to do that.

Don’t get me started on the government and its failings with regard to our soldiers. It’s criminal. The military tends to equate PTSD with weakness or cowardice. But they’re going to have to get on board, especially because troops are doing multiple tours. We need to make the VA and the government start addressing the needs of its soldiers at home. We need to shine a light on this and erase the stigma. This case is important, Michael. Maybe you can help another broken soldier and save some lives.

Fifteen minutes later, Betsy came thundering down the stairs. "I'm going to the mall with Sierra to see a movie."
Michael leaned forward, switched off the television. "Can you please rephrase that in the form of a question?"
"Sure. Can I have some money?

For years he'd strived to make a difference in the world, and he'd worked like a dog to make that happen, and yet here he was, a man sitting on a dock with his children, and never had he felt more certain that his words mattered.

From the first time we met, we knew everything that mattered about each other, didn't we? We just knew. I guess that's what best friends are: parts of each other.

He'd learned in the past few months that telling a girl what to wear--even one the size of a golf club--was a bad idea. Histrionics often followed.

He is a man, and he is afraid. This is not a good combination.

Here's what you need to know: some cliches are true, and war is definitely hell. It's being afraid all the time, and when you're not afraid it's because you're pumped full of adrenaline you could literally burst. It's watching people who you love- really profoundly love- get blown to pieces right next to you. It's seeing a leg lying in the ditch and picking it up to put it in a bag because no man- or part of a man, your friend- can be left behind. It's the dark night of the soul. There's no front line over there. The war is all around them, every day, everywhere they go. Some handle it better than others. We don't know why, but we do know this: the human mind can't safely or healthily process that kind of carnage and uncertainty and horror. It just can't. No one comes back from war the same.

He tried to get help from the VA but he couldn’t, as so many other returning soldiers have discovered. He suffered terribly—nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks. He drank too much to mask these symptoms, and unfortunately alcohol only exacerbated the condition. It’s called post-traumatic stress and it is a recognized psychiatric disorder. It was around long before we had such a serious-sounding clinical name for it. In the Civil War, it was called a ‘soldier’s heart,’ which I think is the most accurate of the descriptions; in World War One, it was ‘shell shock,’ and during World War Two, ‘battle fatigue.’ In other words, war changes every soldier, but it has always profoundly damaged some of them.

Hope was an elevator right now, broken from its cables.

I know about forgiving people and loving them anyway, even after they hurt you.

I might screw up, I might embarrass you, I might yell at you, but I will never, ever stop loving you. You're my first born. The first time I held you... I fell in love so hard it cracked my bones.

I once read a Stephen King book that used the term SSDD. Same shit, different day.

Life is messy-- especially now-- it will help if you accept the mess and let it be.

Lulu twirled in front of Jolene, banging into the seat. her eyes sparkled in that I'm-either-going-to-scream-or-fall-asleep-any-second kind of way.

Marriages go through hard times. Sometimes you have to get in there and fight for your love. That's the only way for it to get better.

...question was gone, tossed onto the pile of lost chances that made up Before.

She had been ready to love this man from the moment she first saw him. In all these years, that had never changed. They'd hurt each other, let each other down, and yet, here they were after everything, together. She needed him now, needed him to remind her that she was live, that she wasn't alone, that she hadn't lost everything.

Sometimes holding on was all you could do.

That was Jolene, cleaning up even when life was falling apart.

They are heroes, our soldiers, the men and women who go into harm's way to protect us, our way of life. It doesn't matter what you think of the war, your have to be grateful to the warriors, of whom we ask so much. To whom we sometimes give too little.

...This fear was unbearable. It unwrapped who she was, as neatly as he'd unwound her bandage, leaving too much pain and ugliness exposed.
Nerve endings; he'd said they were the problem [causing phantom pain in the amputated limb]." Things that cut off, that ended abruptly or died--like parents and marriages--kept hurting forever.

We are what we do and say, not what we intend to.