It’s a sunny day in Colorado and my parents are visiting to see their grandson. I am glad to see my mom and dad but I am still getting to know my wife again. My son is 13 months old and I have only met him a few days ago; were still strangers. I spent a total of 12 months in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and have not adjusted to civilization yet. As I Walk down the street, I see working street lights, cars that run, smell wondrous pastries from the bakery. I start to think to myself, where are the real fragrances like the smell of death, the dead dog corpses, the waning aroma of raw sewage and misery? I have smelled misery and it’s undeniable. The slightest whiff of it transports you back to a darker place. The smell lingers.
The mountains project from the Great Plains in force and look majestic with white sparkling tops on mammoth landscapes. I am on leave from Ft. Carson. My father and I decide to head to Coors Brewery for a tour of the facilities. My dad is fond of beer, so I try to make his day a good one. Were early for our brewery tour so we go to Starbucks and order him a coffee and I take a hot chocolate. We take our hot drinks and begin our walk to Coors.
I see a driver in her car waiting at a red light. The driver is a young mom and seems to be concerned with her infant in the back of the car. She is rushed and is toiling with her newborn’s safety harness, her baby is crying. The shriek of the child grows louder as we walk closer.
The light turns green and the women in the car is still working with her infant in the back seat. She is not paying attention to the green light, the baby screams grow louder. A Volkswagen bus is the second car back from the lady with the screaming child. The van driver gets frustrated and starts beeping his horn. The baby’s cries grow louder. The horn blows with intensity and the man begins to scream and use violent language, the situation is hot.
The smell lingers.
There is danger and I must act. I reach for my 9 millimeter, it’s not on my side. My SAW is nowhere to be found. I slept with these weapons for a year and now they are gone. I run towards the Volkswagen bus. The man in the van continues to beep his horn and to yell, he is a threat. I have no weapons so I throw the hot chocolate at the van. The van driver reacts to the assault and curses at me. I try to drag him out of the van, I see fear in his eyes. The mom in the car with the child takes off down the road, scared off by the commotion. The smell of misery dissipates and the van drives away. The child is not crying. The street lights are working and the smell of misery in the air has vanished.
Two police saw the whole thing while taking a break in Starbucks and I find myself in cuffs on the side of the road. My dad is lost in confusion and I am sitting on a curb on a busy city street, no longer in the sand box. One of the police officers was a Vietnam Veteran and after confirming who I was and where I have been, took pity on me and let me go with a warning. In reality I should have been arrested.
This all went down in a matter of 4 minutes on the main drag in Golden, Colorado. It’s when I realized that I came back a different person.
Life experiences change us. Do we embrace the change, bottle up the change, suppress the change, or assimilate to the change. How we react to the transformation is the difference maker. There is no easy path back from a burdened soul but there is a way!!! We can only find that path while moving forward one step at a time. Keep the faith, never stop the good fight and walk, crawl and drag yourself forward out from the shadows.