Monday, March 14, 2005

Moments When You Realize That You're Not That Brave or Tough


Relearning life, one task at a time
Mock home at Walter Reed helps Iraq amputees adjust

By Susan Levine
Updated: 12:13 a.m. ET March 13, 2005

The wheelchairs, crutches and still-healing bodies show up for lunch every Wednesday, crowding into a diminutive kitchen where the washer and dryer sit cheek by jowl with the electric range, and the sink is wedged between the fridge and a short bend of counter.

No one seems to mind the congestion. Most grumble good-naturedly as they brown hamburger meat and pull cupcakes out of the oven, sometimes bending or stirring awkwardly if a missing limb has yet to be supplanted or an artificial limb is too new for real dexterity.

"Why didn't you break the meat up before you put it in the pan?"

"I was under the impression I was only supposed to boil water."

"What? Am I the only one here with a functional pair of hands?"


There is a real kind of bravery in this world, and I don't think you know whether or not you have it until you're faced with something like this. We had a kid in our unit get his face melted off in Iraq. He had been cross-leveled as an individual out of Charlie Company 321st, his normal unit, and was attached to another unit in Iraq. When Charlie got re-mobilized a few months ago, he told everyone that as soon as he got better he'd volunteer to go back to Iraq and join them. He's facing twenty or so reconstructive surgeries before he's close to better and there is no way that he's joining up with Charlie. But, don't tell him that. He'll tell you to fuck off....sir.

My friends Kirk and Charity have that kind of bravery. They're out at Fort Huachuca right now and so I got to hang out with them over the last two weeks. Their son Lain has severe cerebral palsy. He can't walk. He can't talk. And he may never have a normal life. But, don't tell Kirk that. He's getting a sidecar for his Harley so Lain can go on rides with him. Life WILL BE normal.

I don't know if I'm brave. And I've been lucky enough to not have to find out. I volunteered for combat and ended up driving a laptop at CENTCOM. I think I could have handled close combat, but how would I handle losing a leg...or worse. Getting up everyday and willing your life back to normal is something that I hope I never have to face. They don't hand out medals for that kind of heroism, but they should.

Blogger note: Blogger's spell check told me to replace "fuck" with "fuji",
"CENTCOM" with "Contagion", and "Huachuca" with "Hashish". Weird huh? Maybe its trying to tell me that you'd have to be stoned to want to be stationed at Fort Huachuca. I agree.


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