March 07, 2009

HE SURVIVED

The first thing my husband did was quote Raising Arizona with a big grin on his face: "When there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand." "You ate sand?" I smiled back. "We ate SAND," he finished.

He told me was that SERE was so much worse than he ever imagined. I said that I had been crying and worrying about him all week. His response: "You definitely should have been."

The thing about SERE is that everyone is supposed to go in fresh. My husband can't tell me a lot what he went through without revealing the confidential parts of the course, but suffice it to say that the few things that he was allowed to tell me me were plain awful. And I know there are more things that he can't explain in mere words even if he could, things I will never be able to understand.

He said he came away from the training with so much respect for people like John McCain. My husband spent a few days as a simulated prisoner, and he said it was enough to make you wish you were dead. He said he cannot imagine how POWs survived for years on end in a real prison, with real guards and real solitary confinement and real torture.

One facet of the desperation they felt can be summed up by a story he told. During the evasion part, my husband was lucky enough to happen upon a snake. He killed it and then carried the dead snake with him until the next day when they could safely make a fire and eat it. But the saddest part was when he said that he was so miserable from the weather that he didn't even notice how starving he was. And he was starving enough that he lost more than 20 pounds in one week.

But he's been in a good mood since the moment I saw him grinning at me. I suppose liberation from such an ordeal must make you happy in so many ways.

Me, I had trouble falling asleep last night and woke up very early this morning, listening to him breathe -- and hack and cough, since his weakened condition has made him sicker than I've ever seen him -- and just being so thankful that he's home, and thankful that the whole thing was simulated.

All I could think about all week was how wives of real POWs could bear it. I couldn't bear one week of agony, knowing that somewhere out there my husband was being mistreated...by paid professionals who only mean to teach the soldiers valuable lessons. I don't know how ladies in the past woke up every morning knowing that their husbands were truly being tortured.

And his hands. His poor hands, destroyed from clawing his way through thorn bushes under a new moon in the pouring rain to evade the enemy. Every time I see them, it's a reminder of all he went through.

But he survived. He returned with honor. And I'm very proud of him.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:08 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 I am in awe. I'm surprised you were able to write something about SERE so well and so quickly. I can barely find the words for this little note. I want to congratulate and thank him. He went through hell for what he believes in - for his country - for us. I will never even begin to understand, but I must recognize his achievement. I will be thinking of him - and you - as he recovers. His body will eventually heal, but he will always remember ...

Posted by: Amritas at March 07, 2009 05:48 AM (Wxe3L)

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