Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Day after Holidays

Spring near Ground Zero, NYC (photo: Jan Barry)

Holidays, like anniversaries of certain dates, can be hard on survivors. So can the day after. Not to mention, subsequent days. Memorial Day, celebrated with solemn ceremonies and happy festivities yesterday, is not just a springtime holiday for war veterans. Buddies who died didn’t all expire on the last Monday in May. But our culture has decreed that all those depth charge explosions of grief from wartime losses be expressed on the designated day.

But grief is unruly. It has its own timeline. Sometimes, the hardest time is the day after the official social rituals.

War Holiday

The day after Memorial Day 2014
A Marine vet I know
Tried to kill himself—
This is what he said
To a group of fellow vets:
“The day after Memorial Day,
I tried to kill myself—
Woke up in the hospital
Being resuscitated…
I’ve had 17 friends commit suicide—
I’ve lost more friends to suicide
Than in combat…”

Where’s the wall
With those names on it?
Didn’t they get the memo:
Happy Memorial Day

--Jan Barry


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