Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

My god, I am so lazy today. Owen stayed until about three-thirty, three forty-five, whatever. We napped until three, he and I, and one time he woke up and asked, "Down?" and I said, "No baby. It's not time yet."
And he did that thing where he throws himself against me and falls asleep again and then I do too, fitfully, though, his sweating head on my arm.

Summer. Naps. Sitting on the porch. Not moving much. You just can't imagine the heat unless you live in the south, so wet and thick. It's not quick-heat, not flash-fire, it's almost solid in its humidity, its denseness. You can't walk through it without feeling as if you might fall to your knees. And the bugs. Aw, Jesus, the bugs. The damn yellow flies are the worst. They are built like supersonic aircraft and they are more stealthy than anything the military has come up with. They land on you without you realizing it until you feel a horrible stinging, burning and then you go to slap them and they fly away with amazing slyness and if you do manage to get one, they splatter blood everywhere. Your blood.
And where they've bitten you- all fourteen places on your ankle, it swells and itches and those are sons of bitches, those damn things. And yet- they need our blood to live and even in my hatred for them, I have a bit of respect for the way they've evolved to get what they need. I can see a purpose there, even if it does not serve me.

Memorial Day in Lloyd.

I have such a hard time with these holidays. We are supposed to remember those who have sacrificed their lives in the wars and I can't get past the fact that if no one anywhere allowed themselves to be sent to war, no one would die but of course, that's not how it works. The old ones are smart. They know they can fire up the youth whose breasts burn with the need to prove their manhood and teach them to be killing machines and they'll go out and do their bidding. One more thing that fucks up my mind. It's almost like honoring those who have served and died is honoring the wars themselves and I cannot do that.
The endless miles of graves and crosses, stars of David and flags.
I hate that shit.
Don't make it glorious. It's just bad-death. Wrong-death.

Owen wanted me to put a necklace on him today. It was just a cheap thing, but simple and pretty, and I put it on his naked neck and I looked at the way it fell on his baby-boy chest, the pure skin, that miracle of human skin that covers the miracle of the human body which contains the miracle of human feelings and love and I wanted to weep with the beauty of it.

"Off," he said, and I took it off and hung it back up but that image will stick with me. When he is here, I love to let him go almost-or-entirely naked, his body so perfect that it seems a shame to cover it up.
How do women who have raised baby boys (and now girls, too!) allow them to go off to war to risk the tearing, the ripping of that skin?
They have no choice. They have to let them go.
What can they do? What in the world can a mother do to prevent a child from going to war?

But is it a glorious thing to sacrifice your child?

No it is not and no wreath laid on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier (he was known to someone!) is going to make it so. No playing of Taps by a white-gloved soldier is going to make it so. No honoring, no gratefulness, no memorial is going to make it anything but death.

That's what I'm thinking right now and maybe I'm just addled by the heat, by the bugs, by the air, by the trees' leaves turning yellow and falling off.

Or maybe I don't have the gene.

All I know is that I am grateful beyond belief that I never had to send a child off to war. That that sacrifice was never asked of me. Look- life is tenuous enough, just in its living.
There ain't no glory in its dying.

I don't care how many flags you wrap it in.

And I wish that no mother ever had to accept a flag into her arms as her child is lowered into the ground because there is no flag ever made whose worth, even symbolically, is one tenth of a molecule of her child's living, perfect skin which covers that child's living, beating heart.

And so on Memorial Day, this year, at least, I am going to think not of the dead- they are gone from here and do not suffer- but I am going to think of the mothers and the fathers and the sisters and brothers and grandmothers and grandfathers and lovers and children left behind whose suffering will be with them until they draw their own last breath.

And I am going to wish that at some point our evolution will reveal the truth- that war is not and never will be holy nor glorious and that the thing we must do is to beat our swords into plowshares so that we can prove ourselves in the growing, in the nurturing, in the creation instead of in the death.

Yeah. Whatever.
But that's what I think. And I'm not going to apologize for it, either. And I am not going to apologize for not believing for one second that any god- yours or mine or his or hers- would ask such a ridiculous thing in his or her name. If there's any damn one place in the Bible that will turn a thinking-person off of religion (or at least the God-Given-Truthfulness of that particular holy book) it is the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him.

Any god that would ask a father to kill his son in His name (even if it was just a test! even if He was just foolin' around!) is not a god I care to associate with. And any government who asks of a mother or a father to do the same is not one I am completely comfortable with. Or ever will be.

I honor those who have lost a loved one. I wish them peace. And I am fully aware that this is no more comforting than a piece of heavy cloth sewed in strips and stars of red and white and blue, which, cradled in arms, still leaves a vast emptiness where there was once a sleeping baby, a loving person, a human being who was alive.


  1. Ah, Mary. God and dead children. This stirs so much in me that I don't have the energy to tackle right now. But I think you are more right than not.

  2. Of course you are right, Mary.......War is an idiocy that men (I'm sorry, but it is true)invented and perpetuate for some inexplicable reason. I used to like the idea of sending, not armies, but heads of state into the field to duke it out.

    Of course the trouble with that is that we would have to begin electing politicians for their brawn......I dunno... but electing them for their so called brains hasn't worked out very well, has it?.......maybe we should begin to evaluate them and solve disagreements on the basis of their blogging skills........


  3. Stephanie- Thank-you. These are not easy things to talk about. Not at all.

    Lo- I've had similar thoughts. How about a chess game? How about a joke-fest? How about let the women figure it out? Oh Lord. I do not know. But I know that the older I get, the less patience I have with words for sacrifice when sacrifice was not needed.

  4. You touch my heart and soul, I am in total agreement, and so sad that so many have sacrificed their lives. For the sake of oil? Gold? The rendering of Mother Earth for monetary reasons? Freedom of Speech? I'm all for a Chess Game, and the Heads of State, Presidents, etc. duking it out by themselves, for themselves. Why oh why aren't the Indigenous People given a voice? Oh. I know. They have something in their lands that are worth $. Silly me. But then...who will help those who are victims of genocide? Any suggestions on how to go about that without war? Geeeezzzzz.....

  5. I was secretly relieved that my first three children were girls...and now when my fourth was the boy..I am secretly scared that this God awful war will pick him up. I won't let it...we'll leave whatever, I can't bare to think of my beautiful boy sent to kill. NO...NO...NO. If women were the head of countries there would be no war.

  6. My aunt lost her only son to war. She was never the same after that. I don't see anything glorious about it or the military. I guess that I don't have the war gene either. And I am not exceedingly nationalistic.

  7. No glory in war, none at all. I wonder why so many of us are so cowed that we can't admit what you've done so perfectly here. Thank you for that.

  8. Amen Ms Moon. All this is "asked" in the name of "God" and patriotism. I would fight to my dying breath to protect my children from anyone or anything that would harm a single cell of their bodies... the bodies I grew inside me for nine months and nurtured to maturity and will continue to do so. To lose a child to such futility would tear a hole so deep and jagged that it would never heal. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of those (especially Mothers)left behind to suffer such a loss till the end of their own lives. We don't have "Memorial Day" in the UK, but 11th November is "Rememberance Day". Remember the dead, but also remember the living who are left behind to patch over their hearts and try to carry on. The price of war and even one life lost is too high.

  9. Thank you for writing this post. You said (as usual) exactly what I was feeling. I love you.

    I also loved this:

    And yet- they need our blood to live and even in my hatred for them, I have a bit of respect for the way they've evolved to get what they need. I can see a purpose there, even if it does not serve me.


  10. Ms. Moon, I know you claim to not be religious but I still have to share this little story with you. In the 70's my brother was drafted into the Army; he was flown to California, getting ready to go to Vietnam. His name was on the list. He talked to my parents in Kentucky the morning that he was to receive the final orders. On the phone my Dad said "You are not going to Vietnam." My brother said, "Dadddddd, my name is on the list to go to Vietnam." My Dad said,"No, the Lord told me you are not going." My brother kinda was "ok, yeah, whatever." later he goes down to check the list and his name was NOT on the Vietnam list but he went to Okanawa. Needless to say we said, "Thank you, Lord!!!"

  11. I'm with you, Mary, you said it beautifully.

  12. There is so much truth to this post. So much truth. I hate war. Hate it. Nothing about it is glorious.

  13. Dearest Mary, I shall never, ever agree with war. Brilliantly said xx

  14. I'm behind you 100% on the war subject, Ms Moon. As the George Bush era Republicans were fond of saying about the "other side" Follow the Money! War is about making the Good Ol' Boys rich, richer, richest.

    Memorial Day has been co-opted by the war-drumming fear-mongers. It used to be about remembering all those who had died, sort of an American Day of the Dead. I posted about my Grandpa's tradition of decorating the family graves last year:

    Thanks for carrying the PEACE flag this year.
    x0 N2

  15. Alice- No. I have no suggestions. I am afraid that humans are doomed in this regard. That's just how it seems to me.

    Ellen- Well, some women seem to need to prove themselves as manly as any man. That saddens me.

    Syd- I don't think there is ever any healing. Ever.

    Elizabeth- Hell, I criticized both God and Country. I can't believe I've only gotten good comments.

    Sandy- Amen.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- I still hate their damn asses.

    Deb- Well. Maybe the Lord did speak to your father. Or maybe things just worked out that way. We'll never know.
    I'm just really glad your brother didn't go to Viet Nam.

    HoneyLuna- Thank-you, baby. I love you so much.

    Jo- I'm glad you think so. I am.

    Angie- Not one damn thing.

    Christina- And beneath our skin, we are the same in so many ways.

    N2- Glad to do it.

    Terena- Thanks, baby.

  16. Thank you. I feel all this and never know how to begin to say it.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.