Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Things We Carry

I had a college English class where the professor loved Vietnam War stories.  I, however, do not remotely enjoy reading war stories.  Yet, instead of dropping or transferring to another class, I read each and every novel.  One story in particular was The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.  It is a work of fiction made up of short stories.  The very first story shares the title of the book.  It was wonderfully written, and I instantly fell in love with the book.

He started out by naming the very items that the soldiers carry in their backpacks.  Such as the ammo, the boots, and the rations.  And after some of the items, he stated how much it weighed.  You started to get a sense of just how much weight was on these soldiers backs as they trekked through the jungle.  Then he stated other items like photographs, letters, and such.  You understand that these particular items may not physically weigh very much, but they emotionally weigh more than the ammo, the guns and the rations.  And lastly, he started to list memories, tears, and emotions.  You finally understand that what weighs these soldiers down is not just the physical items, but it is so much more.  It is the internal items that can slow down the soldiers. 

Tim O'Brien wrote so eloquently that I understood and have so much respect for our soldiers in combat because they carry so much more on their backs than what is inside their backpacks.  We widows and widowers are somewhat similar in that regard.  We carry so much pain, but people cannot understand because they don't see the bruises or the scars so they think that we should be better by now.  We still feel the sting of sorrow, but because it is buried so deep within, people just can't see it to fully understand.  We still cry over our significant others, but people can't see our broken hearts so they ask us why?   We still have anxiety when we remember that our significant other isn't ever coming home, but all people can tell us is that we need to get over it.

It's that time of year where the pain is more intense.  Where our hearts are feeling more broken.  Where our backpacks feel more heavy.  I truly hope that everyone that reads this can understand just a little bit more that it's not just feeling blue, or missing Chris.  It's missing the life that Chris and I would have had.  It's missing the family that we would have had.  It's missing his son.  It's missing what we would have been doing today before work.  It's missing every little detail of every day.  It's also missing those pictures that I never took with him.  It's missing all the things that we never got to do.  It's missing him watch his son open his Christmas presents.  There's so much more. Those are the things that I carry with me every single moment of every day.


  1. beautiful! A lovely way to say it...

  2. Ann this is so beautifully written, thank you for sharing this with us!