This Life…

This world can be woefully unfair at times. Cruel, even. For example: I don’t know why I’m here, and they’re not. Why the universe decided to take the wonderful and leave the wretched behind. Now, upon reading that, you may have the impulse to rush to my defense and exculpate me from this burdensome line of thought. To exclaim that I am not wretched or any such thing. And that is because you are kind and driven by heart. Whereas I have seen through my own eyes the abhorrently distasteful things I have done.

What things?

I have stood overtop of dead bodies, and mocked them for being so. I have let loose careless orations in front of the newly bereft because I was not cognizant enough to see that the living and the deceased were related. I left the army, and let my brothers and sisters continue to deploy. I have smashed windows with hockey sticks and thrown equipment that was not mine against walls. I have driven drunk to the point where handcuffs were given as consequential gifts. I did this even after having seen first hand the dangers of such a reckless act. I even continued to do it after my friend’s father was killed by one. And yet here I sit, alive and unscathed. Wretchedly alive.


My brothers? The ones in shared uniform? Well, they are dead and gone. The good are taken, the wicked are not. Seemingly so…

I tried to combat this line of thinking after leaving therapy today. I really did try. Still am, I suppose. But the thing is, it really does feel unequivocally true to me. Deep within the marrow of my bones, it feels as sturdy as fact. When I stand on the lakeshore scanning the illimitable horizon, all I see are the silhouettes of those absent and gone. Remembering their features with frightful clarity and detail. Their voices have become pained echoes that wander the halls of my ears. Their faces, known to transpose themselves atop of a passerby without warning or inclination. I breathe in through my nose and try to taste the salt of the sea. I demand a cessation to this introspective castigation, but it all falls to the doorstep of futility. So, I try venue number two: the bar…


I’m not there to drink. Maybe once upon a time I was, but not anymore. It’s just sometimes the bustle of a barroom matches that of a weighted mind and thus a cancellation of sorts occurs. An armistice, if you will. Once inside the dimly lit confines of a brewhouse, I fixate on the sounds of the cups and glasses clanging together as they are thrown into a bucket of the used. I use my nose to fetch the wafting perfume of the pretty girl two stools down. I procure my soda water and instantly place the pads of my trembling fingers to the sides of the glass, feeling the dampened chill push passed my skin. Anything to detract from this awful ache inside of me.

Sadly, this too often ends outside the doorstep of futility. Today especially…

There are things about me that you do not know. Things some of you may never know. But I know and feel everything. Remember everything.

Sometimes I fear that because I was born to a monster, a man who beat and touched children, I can be nothing other than abysmal. I feel like a fraud in a lot of ways. I have worn the uniforms of a hero, and yet I feel more akin to the villain than anything. Or at the very least a ne’er do well. An angel with a rusted halo. Superman with a torn cape. Perhaps the reasons I have suffered so much as a result of my intentions, is because I was never fit for the part. An actor auditioning for the wrong role. I dunno…

All that is for certain, is that life can be a cruel son of a bitch. A real fucker. But, I’m alive. I know this because each morning my fucking eyes open and my world of mediocrity is presented to me. And I should be happy for that, and I am. It’s just that when I feel happy about the gift of life, I also inherit a sense of guilt in knowing that good men are not. That’s quite the mixture for a morning coffee, huh?

I then think of my mum, and how she is no longer here. Then I question what the hell it is that makes me try so goddamn hard to stay here. Why I try to become a better version of what I am sure is a painfully average human being at best. Sometimes it all just feels so hard with being this fucking sad all the time.

My therapist says that I need to reframe things. That I need to be kind to myself and show some compassion inwardly. And she is right, I know she is. It’s just hard, because for so long and so often beating myself up and penalizing myself for things done has been a default setting. It feels natural. Like an honest critique.

It’s not my fault that my brothers are dead—but what if it is?
I could not have saved my mum—but what if I could?
I tried as hard as I could to save that boy—I could have done something more…
I got to that 3-month old baby as fast as I could—should have moved faster…
Colin would have deployed anyway—it should have been you… it should always have been you…

Tonight I am sad. I am angry and I am deflated. I am lonely in the company of ghosts. I miss my brothers. I wish for my mum. I pray to something that I do not believe in for something I know to be impossible. I ache…

This world can be a cruel place. Unfair, even. But it can be beautiful, too. I have had fleeting moments beneath the sun, feeling its warmth instead of its burn. Tasting the rain instead of catching its chill. Smelling the rose, avoiding the thorn.

Although I am sad and broken tonight, I am still a man of hope. A man who is alive when there are those who are not and yet should be. I was gifted life by those who sacrificed theirs. Men like Starker, Wilmot and Boomer. Greg, too. This means that tomorrow I will wake up and try again. And I will keep trying until I have found that better part of me. Mediocre or not.

Yes, this world can be cruel. Yes, this world can be unfair. But this life is beautiful. Triumph is born from pain, and there is nothing more totally beautiful than victory. So, tomorrow, I. Will. Rise. As will the sun, giving life to this world for one more day…

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