This week I am cautious. I hope to avoid some sleepless nights. I am on “high alert” so to speak.
I know there are mixed feelings about signs that read “combat veteran lives here be cautious with fireworks,” but after seeing my husband break down because he felt like one 4th of July holiday was “just like being in Baghdad,” I have to say please be cautious.
I’ve never witnessed Sam return to a place that caused so much trauma so quickly as I did that 4th of July. That was a fourth that was pre-Memphis, and we had little sleep. I became anxious because how do you stop fireworks? How do you explain to someone who has never been to war that is a triggering sound, a sound that causes jumping, nightmares, uneasiness? People will spend thousands of dollars on fireworks, and in our area, unfortunately, they last a lot longer than they should (we’ve already had fireworks the past two nights). I spend time trying to figure out how to make Sam comfortable.
I am at a loss for words on how to explain what a holiday can do to someone who has been to war. Someone who has worked (out on a mission) through mortars, bombs, gunfire, similar sounds that fireworks make.
I see a man uneasy, a man nervous about how long the sounds will last, a man worried about sleep, his family, dogs, a man hoping to avoid memories. And the idea of celebrating, watching, participating in a fireworks display makes me uneasy because, for our family, the 4th is not so great. Now, I’m not saying that the 4th is the worst holiday and we don’t understand or realize the importance of Independence Day, I’m saying that this is an “anniversary” day for me in a sense. I recall the night we saw PTSD creep in, take over, and try to break up our family.
We experienced a really bad 4th of July vacation as a family a few years ago. I saw the triggers of PTSD and what it can do to a person. I was visibly shaken. I was afraid Sam would leave us for good. I worried about him. I worried about the kids. In a way, this was the wake-up call: PSTD is not going to take over and run our lives. This was the vacation that prompted us to consider more options for help for Sam.
This vacation prompted Sam to apply to This Able Veteran.
As you celebrate, eat, light fireworks, watch fireworks, please remember this (and read this poem):
Jehanne Dubrow, poet and military spouse writes this:
COMBAT VETERAN LIVES HERE PLEASE BE COURTEOUS WITH FIREWORKS
Fouth of July lawn signs for Veterans with PSTD
Our weekend brings its long barrage–the flare
and cherry bombs, the snap, the thunder-flash,
A rocket streaks the sky. Green mortars crash.
A roman candle lacerates the air with sparks,
a hissing brillance everywhere that wrenches shadows
from the grass. Each splash of light sets off the dogs–
they smell the ash, they scurry from the missile’s steady glare.
Small parachutes drift paper-frail as thought.
There’s smoke, a shattering of shells, a crack
which sounds the way a rifle might when shot
into the night. Our neighborhood is hot, alive
with waiting, one moment powder-black then bright,
as if we’re all under attack–