I was only six when the actual fighting began. Back then, I had
no idea what was going on. My father and three older brothers
said they were going away for a little while to keep me safe.
That was the last I had heard from any of them. My mother took
care of me from that point on. We spent the entire day together,
because she never made me go to school anymore. She taught me
everything that, "I needed to know." There was no more adding and
subtracting anymore. No spelling, no pronunciation excersizes.
Everything I learned was how to survive, because she believed
that one day I was going to need it. She taught me how to distill
water, how to hunt small game in the forrest behind our small
country home, and how to cook the meat of the animals that I
captured. It continued on this way for years, and I was enjoying
My Mother and I would always enjoy receiving letters from My
Father and Brothers. In their letters, they expressed the things
they had seen, and how much they wish they were home again. They
would say things like, "Ma, the countryside here is beautiful,
but it has nothing on our view," Or, "I wish I could get some of
your cooking again, ma." I know that deep down inside, it hurt to
read those letters. The four men who she had given her life to,
were at danger of giving their lives away. I would always see a
tear swell up in her eye when she read them, but she would smile
and tell me everything was going to be alright.
One day, when I was seven, we stopped getting letters from my two
oldest brothers, Thomas and Vincent. Instead, one day in the
mail, we recieved A letter from the United States Marine Corps
and two triangularly folded flags. My mother broke down, but I
had no idea what was going on. She said that the two of them took
a trip, and they were not comming back. I was confused at first,
but eventually, it began to sink in. My two oldest brothers had
given their lives to protect me and my mother. I could not let
myself cry infront of my mother. She cried to me nearly every
day. I know I had to be strong in front of her, so that's what I
I continued to live my life in almost the same routine the next
few years. I would wake up at exactly 6:30 everymorning and read
a few pages of Leo Tolstoy's, "War and Peace." Shortly after my
exerpts had been read, I grabbed my hunting rifle and headed off
to find the days meal for me and my mother. While in the forest,
I had time to think about everything that had been happening. The
war, My brothers dying, My mother, and just life itself. I found
these few hours the most pleasing, because this is where I really
found myself. I was not unintelligent by any means, but no matter
what you know, it means nothing if you do not know yourself.
After collecting all the game of the day, I would travel back to
my home. I would show my mother what I had, and every day, she
would say, "My, oh my, James. You outdue yourself every day." I
knew she did not mean it. she said it because she needs me to try
to out due myself, every day. So I just smile, nod, and continue
on. While she prepares the meal of the day, usually venison with
bread and potatoes, which she harvests from our small farm near
the house, I unwind next to the radio, to listen to the events of
the war, wondering how my father and two brothers are doing,
envisioning what their life is like right now. It was hard,
considering neither of them had written for few weeks now.
One morning, when I was twelve, something did not feel right. I
remember everything perfectly. The sky was so thick with clouds
and pouring rain, the sun had trouble shining through. The loud
thunder rattled every inch of our small farm house. In a small
instance of joy, I realized my hunt from the day before had gone
exceptionally well. I was not going out this morning. I had
already finished "War and Peace" and "Crime and Punishment," by
Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I had also read numerous titles that do not
capture much of my intrest, so I choose to leave their names
unimportant. I had began reading the work "Fathers and Sons," by
Ivan Turgenev, and was already about half way through the text.
By time my mother woke up, I had fallen asleep reading my book.
Together, we went downstairs to eat our small breakfast of
whatever was leftover from the night before. We discussed the
severity of the storm, and told me that I needed to check the
property for any sort of damage. Unhappy, I trugged out the door
after eating my breakfast to begin inspection. My eye caught
nothing at first, but at a second glance, I saw that our barn's
roof had been slightly damaged. As I was doing my quick repair, I
saw the mail man drive up to deliver a package to my mother. I
thought nothing of it.
I finished my repair, and went inside to clean up and get ready
for the meal of the day. When inside, I found my mother
collapsed. The package lay open on the table. I checked, and
found a triangularly folded flag, with a letter. My father had
joined my two brothers in giving their lives to protect me. I
felt my heart ripping inside my chest, but refused to show it. My
mother was crying helplessly on the kitchen floor, but I could
not say anything to comfort her. What could possibly comfort her?
The love her of life, along with 3 of her children had now died.
The silence in my head could not be penetrated. Even the sobs of
my mother were not heard. I thought helplessly, trying to
remember when things were normal. When My father, brothers and I
would play small games of football together in the back yard.
Camping with my father, and listening to his stories about his
childhoold. I realized none of that is ever going to come back.
Things changed drastically.
My mother was never the same. Her expressionless emotion never
left her face. Everything she did was done without expression, or
passion. Not an ounce of feeling was left in her. I felt that I
had to be the same way. Everything had been taken away from us,
for something that I could not even understand. We spoke very
little for the years to come, but when we did, it was heartfelt,
and very meaningful. She would tell me that one day, I would be
alone. Rather than taking this as an omen, I prepared for it. I
knew she was right. Me and her were alone in our own sepereate
ways. She lost a husband, two sons, and basically me, as we
drifted due to the lack of conversation and love. I, in turn,
lost A father, two brothers, and my mother, for the same reason.
More pertinately, I lost myself. While hunting, I could not think
straight. Thoughts flooded my mind, and nothing was clear. My
life had fallen apart, and I tried tirelessly to find the pieces
to put it back together.
One cold day while hunting, I realized I did not know where I
was. In an effort to think clearly, I had lost track of where
exactly I was going. I saw that I had reached a part of forrest
that I had not previously encountered. At first, I paniced, but I
remembered all the skills my mother tought me. The first thing
that popped into mind was the old moss on the north side of the
tree trick. To my dismay, I could not find a single patch of
moss. I remembered another trick, so I quickly looked to the sky.
I remembered that it was morning, and that the sun is always in
the East during the morning time. Unfortunately, I lost track of
time, and the sun was right above me. It was noon. I decided to
just wait until I saw which way the sun moved. It should not be
long, it is winter, after all. I sat upright against a tree, and
weary from my travels, fell asleep.
I dreamt vividly. Here in my dream, I was in a small, dark room.
I was with all of them one last time. Thomas, Vincent, my father,
they were all there. They told me how scarred they were. They
knew that after what they were about to enter, there was no exit.
I could not say anything to them in return, as I was dumbfounded.
I heard the sound of distant mortar shells and the small crackles
of gunshots far in the distance. The smell of gunpowder and death
here so rich. Sadness and fear were palpable. From the look on
the mens faces, every single one of them were making their peace,
and praying to their lord that everything would be alright. Most
of them knew that was not the case, they were just trying to
ensure their souls to heaven. Seeing all those grown men cry,
every tear that hit the ground shook the room. Suddenly, I felt
calm. Everyone around me followed as one of the men stood up and
began to speak. "No matter what happens here. Remember one thing.
We will all be remembered, admired, and loved. We will be seen as
those who showed no fear, no emotion, and no mercy. We..." In my
dream, a shell hit the very room we were standing in. I awoke
suddenly in a freezing cold sweat to a battle of my own.
I heard growling and smelt something rancid. I closed my eyes in
severe fear of what stand before me. I cracked an eye open to
face my fate and saw a wolf straddling my legs, and sniffing
every inch of my body. I did not move. I, like those brave men in
that small, dark room, began to say my prayers to ensure my souls
travel to heaven. I kept my eyes closed and prayed friviously.
For once, my mind was clear, and I was comming into understanding
of myself again. Slowly, but loudly, my thoughts passed through
my head, one by one. I made peace with my family members falling
in action, and I remembered that they did it to protect me. I
used every ounce of strength I had in my body to not shed a tear
at that moment. I succeeded. I clenched my fists as hard as I
could, ready to face what event lay next. I opened my eyes in
fear, but to my relief, the wolf was gone. I sighed with a great
deal of relief. I sit, stunned by previous events, and unable to
move. Eventually, I was ready to pick up where i had left off and
look to the sky to find my way home. The sun was almost on the
horizon of the Western sky. I had found my way home.