"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Maybe Tomorrow: by Loyd Cates

Vietnam Vet Reading a Letter From Home

Perhaps the most overlooked wound of war is a broken heart. 

We all lived for the day we would return to "the world" to be reunited with our spouse or girlfriend, families and life-long friends. It motivated us, we dreamed about it, and it gave us a reason to survive.

I suspect most of us knew someone who received a "Dear John" letter during his tour. 
I can't imagine what goes on inside the mind of a young man whose entire world is turned upside down by a few written words from the person he lived for. 

I have often wondered what happened to these men. I suspect the majority found someone else and moved on with their lives. 

But what becomes of a man whose world was suspended many years ago, and yet he still lives? 

Maybe Tomorrow

A fragile high school yearbook 
and two fading pictures 
is all that remains. 
These are my treasures 
and most valuable possessions. 
Each day they become more cherished. 

Some would say I am approaching 
the “winter of my life”, but truthfully, 
that began the day you said goodbye. 

On the very last page of the yearbook 
is a long and lovely affirmation 
professing your love for me 
and acknowledging mine for you. 
I can recite it word for word 
yet I often read it aloud 
while pretending 
we are speaking face to face. 

My love is so intense 
I do not hear your words, 
I only delight in your presence.

I have no sense of where you are, 
what you do, or if you are content. 
I realize, I do not have the right 
to know these things, 
but my heart never asks 
for permission to wonder. 
Broken hearts are rebellious. 

As I lazily doze 
in my old threadbare chair, 
I am pleasingly disturbed 
by a waft of your sweet scent 
as it floats on a gentle breeze
outside my window. 
I recognize it without doubt 
and it is like candy to a child.

My memory whispers your name 
and my soul is comforted 
by your presence. 
Yes, it is only a dream, 
but it is mine. 
I cling to it with all I have 
and all I am.

Your image comes into focus 
and I am mesmerized. 
You are even more beautiful than yesterday. 
We touch and I am overcome 
with a serenity that warms my body 
and brings comfort to my marrow. 
My world is absolute 
and my prayers answered. 

Is it possible I am conscious? 
Is this bona fide? 

No, it is all as empty as my arms. 
I must dream harder tomorrow 
and I will.

Each day I waken 
to the Wilderness that is my heart 
and I hope, pray and sometimes mourn. 
And then I do it again tomorrow 
and tomorrow 
and tomorrow.
My need for you grows stronger each day 
but age weakens me and I often tire. 
I will continue my quest 
until my parting breath 
because I must. 
I simply must. 

If I had the opportunity 
to strike a Devil’s bargain 
I would seize it 
like a starving wolf to a bone.

After so many years, 
my thoughts debate my memory 
as to the sound of your voice, 
the softness of your skin, 
or even the sparkle in your eyes. 
I can recall the way you made me feel 
as if it was this morning, 
because it was.

Can one so old remember 
the passion of innocent love 
and youthful wonderment? 
I can, or else I am daft. 
After so many years 
and so many dreams 
I am sometimes confused. 

I will investigate no further today 
as I am tired 
and my mind is teeming 
with pleasing thoughts 
that need not be disturbed. 

And if there is another tomorrow, 
there is another dream 
and that is my deliverance 
Loyd Cates
and my salvation.

SSG Cates RVN '69-'70
199th Light Infantry Brigade

Also by Loyd Cates:

Memorial Day: by Loyd Cates

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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  1. While I was in Nam I saw some of the guys who did receive a Dear John letter. Some took it ok! Some I thought would go out of their minds and some did some crazy things. True you did look forward to the letters and that is what kept you going, but like in all wars, guys are young and I guess some girls back home didn't understand what one goes through fighting a war.

    I was lucky -- I met Loyce in Nov. 1966, and we've been together ever since. In June of this year, we were married 45 yrs. When we reach our 50th, I'm going to write the Commandant of the Marine Corps and demand she get awarded the Medal of Honor for putting up with this ole marine haha! But anyways, this was a good story. --Allen J. Folk

    1. It's always a pleasure, reading your comments, Allen. I would say you are in the minority, being married for such a long time, and I think it's wonderful! Please know, I wish you many, many more years of happiness together.

  2. A beautiful, lyrical account of unrequited love. Sad but profound. I can hear your pain.


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