Ramblings Of Remembrance.

Looming just ahead of me are a cluster of days that boast an unrivaled amount of introspective pain and anguish. On a calendar they appear as mere numbers held within a month. To the naked eye they are arbitrary and hardly seem worthy of commanding such trepidation and angst from a person. But to me, they are anything but frivolous. They are days that hold meaning. And woven into the very fabric of that meaning is sadness, overwhelming grief and despair.

The first approaching day to slash at the flesh of my weary soul is the 6th of November. That day, that number, is a combination that I will never, never, forget. It is a day that once robbed from me something so near and dear that forgiveness of said duo is beyond the impossible.

One year ago, on that evil sixth-day of the eleventh month, a cavernous wound carved its way through the grottos of my already fragmented heart. A rush of flummoxing denial scurried along the roadways of my veins. When I got the news of what had happened, my fucking world fell apart. My soul collapsed to the bottoms of my feet and I feared that I would never again be able to draw in a breath without the uninvited inhalation of absolute torture and pain.

On the sixth of November of 2017, my mother was taken from me. My mother’s mind murdered her. Whispering fables of respite from pain, one pill after another… And when it did, a piece of me died as well… Died on the sixth of November. A day that looms just ahead.

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My mother’s death is sad for many reasons, obvious reasons. But it is also tragic because I really did try to save her. You see, a month before that ill-fated day, I called the police on my mother who resided a country width away. I called the police because while speaking with her over the phone on a cold and damp October night, my mother orated to me the exact methodology that she planned to implement when taking her life.

My pleas lay trapped within the plastic and metal of a phone, never truly reaching my mother’s wounded ears. My mother explained to me which pills she planned to take. The way in which she planned to take them, and the time of day of which she would do so. After hearing her spoken word, I called the police local to her area and requested a welfare check – they obliged.

The police officer called me and explained that my mother was indeed a sad lady, but he did not fear that she was in imminent danger of taking her own life. He said that she appeared to be depressed, but not suicidal. I felt relief. A month later, I felt like a fool, a damn fool… my mother killed herself the exact way in which she said she would. My mother fought for as long as she could against a murderously pernicious mind. What strength that must have taken…

That’s day one. The other sadistic day within the same calendar month? The eleventh day of the eleventh month on the eleventh hour… Remembrance Day.

Unlike the sixth, the eleventh day has not stolen from me. It does however mock me with a horrible crooning of rumination and remembrance. Not simply the obligatory and deserved form of remembrance, but another more sinister form of recall – it is a day that holds the souls of my fallen brethren; Colin, Michael and Andrew… my brothers.

I was 23-years old when I held my first dead friend. My first official duty as a soldier, as a medic, was to carry the remains of another medic, a brother. He was lain within a steel box that rested atop of our young and naïve shoulders. The cold of death permeated from within the box. It felt like ice against my ear… ice in the middle of August…

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I am second from the back in this photo – Aug 14, 2006

I cannot stand nor have I stood at a Remembrance Day ceremony in over nine-years. That silence is deafening to me. The loudest thing you could ever think to hear is the sound of nothing at all… It is a reminder of death. The tune of the Reaper.

The day we buried Andrew, there was a moment of silence that lasted entirely too long before the introduction of clattering rifle rounds overhead. Spent casings chimed boisterously as they collided with the pavement below. From that day on, every time I hear an elongated silence, I hesitantly await the thunder of gunshots. And weather they come or not, I hear them all the same, followed by the clanging of brass to concrete.

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Hearing our nations flag whip in the wind as its clasp slaps against the cold steel of a flagpole now sounds more like a nation in mourning and lamentation over anything innocent. Each clang of the pole plucks at a bereft cord within my soul. And when it does, I see their faces, hear their voices and miss their presence on this earth. I remember them…

I remember what it was like to walk-up and see, Starker, donned in his dress greens while nestled within the satin embrace of a hand-picked casket. I remember thinking that the figure within the box looked nothing like him, nothing like my friend, my brother – but knowing that it was – it was my friend, my brother, Starker. He was dead right in front of me. And standing directly behind me? His wife, his beautiful, heart-broken wife…

I also remember the feeling of her hand against my cheek as she pressed softly against my face in a way meant to alleviate pain, my pain. What a thing, a widow trying to take my pain away – what a thing to remember indeed…

Colin died in July. Shortly after Starker on the same year – 2008. On each passing Remembrance Day, when confronted by inevitable rumination, I can hear his voice. It returns to me with painful perfection. It doesn’t just pluck at a cord, it ignites the whole fucking orchestra!

I can hear his goofy laugh. And when hearing that, I think of the mischievous grin that so often accompanied it.

In one month, I remember three fallen brothers, a dead mother and the countless faces of the lost and the damned that I responded to as a paramedic…

November holds nothing good for me. It houses my older brother’s birthday, but I suspect that for even him, that day is steeped within a sullen remembrance – his birthday is on the fifth – our mother died on the sixth… It’s one fuck of a month!

As I write this, I am sure you can tell – I am sad…

What you don’t know, is that I have wiped tears away from my eyes. I have bowed my head and cried into my hands. I have pressed those hands against my face with force intended to muffle the sounds of my childlike sobs.

I mourn my mother, and I miss my brothers.

There is no fast-forward button in life. This means that I am required to feel the agonizing sting of those looming days. It is my fate to feel all of it. And I am, believe me, I am…

My soul is heavy tonight. And my eyes are swollen in remembrance.

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It’s safe to say; I will remember them… all of them…

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