Monster   Leave a comment

Follow me, please. I want to show you something.

Come with me as I take you passed the life I’ve lived; all of the confusion, all of the mistakes and uncertainty that has led me here where I currently stand. I am not a veteran of the United States Armed Forces. I am what most would call a waste of time really. I just barely get by and I hardly have anything left to give back except for some words and the occasional good deed. I don’t have a career. I don’t have children or a home. I am basically just taking up space. A lot of people love me and I am grateful for that. I suppose, in their eyes, I give back a good deal. But I wonder so often if I were to disappear just how long it would take for them to grieve and move on. I don’t wonder this out of self pity or depression. I simply am not convinced that I am irreplaceable. And that maybe in a few weeks or months, I would just be someone who popped up from time to time, a certain date or occasion and then, once the few tears and laughs were spared, back into my comfy oblivion I would be ushered.

Now, let me introduce you to someone else. My father, Joseph Czahur, who did serve our country in the United States Army, a man who saw combat first hand in Viet Nam. He was a demolitions expert and, for a time, drove a tank. When he came back home, my family spoke proudly of him, but hardly ever to his face. But he never really expected to be their hero, even though if you ask them today they will say that he was. My father was an odd duck and no matter how he tried to play the game of life, he always fell short of impressing his family and that haunted him his entire short life.

He had a hard time being normal. And no, the war didn’t do that to him although I’m sure it added to his frustrations. For the most part, my dad was just never what they wanted him to be. But one thing for sure, he was himself through and though and regardless of the masks he tried to wear you could always see his sad, haunted eyes peering from behind. He may have fooled you for a brief period of time, but just as you were getting closer it became clear. He wasn’t a clown or a madman. He was a lost little boy trying to reach the hearts of those he cared for. And he never received that warm feeling he lived his entire life struggling to attain.

There was only one exception to this failure and that was my own tattered heart. When I was a little girl, I adored my dad. When he was around, no one could ever hurt me because he was ready, willing and able to defend and protect me without fail. The only place I was not safe was with the same family that he was misunderstood by. For the life of him, he couldn’t stand up to the people he loved because, I suppose, he kept betting that if he just tried harder, gave more, offered it all, they would surely come around and honor his sacrifice. But they never did. So we both turned to ash in their presence. Neither of us really ever had a chance.

When my father died, I was there holding his hand. It was me and him till the end. In the months before his passing he spoke more freely of his “war experiences” then ever before. He actually remembered things that he had long suppressed and that terrified him. I was his only witness. He poured horror from his open mouth into my soul and all of his fear and regret washed over me, feeling familiar and creating in me a calm sensation that I had never before known. In his weakest, most alarmed moments of recollection I grew to match his intensity with a pure sense of understanding. I had my own stories of pain that I never shared with him. My own reasons for being a failure that I just couldn’t bare to lay down before him, but even without his understanding it felt so good to realize that what may be born innocent can be so tampered with, so neglected and destroyed that it was only natural that we changed into these monsters that we were.

Do you understand? Can you wrap your head around the concept that to know you are a monster is one thing, but to feel all the time that you are not human is something that weighs down on you so heavy that you can barely move sans the times when you need to feed the forces within that you no longer have control over? But when you see, when you have been shown that we were all born the same, little specs of humanity that cried out for love, patience, forgiveness, trust, and it was not your doing that deformed your heart and it was not your fault that created the ugly and the faulty, but the crimes committed by the very hands that now sit and judge, well that is perhaps the closest thing to heaven we may ever find.

If we are to honor our dead soldiers, then I honor my father. He did not die in Viet Nam. In my mind, he was dead the whole time he was there and for many years upon his return. In my mind, he was only alive in the brief weeks that he felt my love when he was at his weakest. He found someone who loved him for exactly who he was and found no reason to push him away or help him to try on masks. But in that short time, he did live. And he was loved the way he always wanted and needed to be.

I have amazing friends. I feel some of their warmth, but I know it does not come close to what they actually offer me. I am damaged in a way that forbids such an exchange. But I know you are there, dear hearts and I adore you.

But when I find myself questioning why I am here, what purpose I serve this particular life time I have only to look at my two parents. They are both the black sheep of their flocks and I am the cold, ever beating heart they have kept wrapped in a black cloth all these many years so that when their respective times came I could be revealed and allowed to comfort them. Each of my parents is the most remarkably misunderstood and elegant disasters you will ever find. They give more, they try harder and they suffer needlessly and yet with ultimate purpose and there I am, cuddled between them each. I am the monster that makes their suffering echo, documented, legitimized and true.

And within their arms I need not question why I am. Only where it is that I am going.

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