I've had this book for awhile now, but I'm only now getting a chance to read it for a couple of reasons. The first is that I have not been able to pry it away from my husband. He's read it at least four times that I know of, and every time I hear him mumbling "mm hmm" or "I remember that all too well" or he'll snort or cluck or make some other sound of remembrance about a place, an experience, or a feeling that he's reading about. It's been a type of therapy for him, a reminder that he doesn't fight the battle to process his ghosts from deployment alone. It's also a reminder of a world that even though it still haunts him is familiar and therefore comforting.
That familiarity gives it an odd kind of safety, and sometimes I know he'd rather be back there where life is simple rather than here where the mundane details we fill up our lives with make no sense to him and are hard to prioritize because to him they don't matter. I imagine for many of our soldiers who have been in combat it's the same. Once life has been stripped down to the essentials of " get up. get ready to fight. fight. stay alive. make sure your friends are alive. kill the enemy if you can. sleep until the next fight" it's a little hard to care about the minutia of the civilian world.
Another reason I kept putting off reading it is because I wasn't sure I was ready. I have always been more interested than many of the spouses I know in knowing more about what my husband's experiences and the soldiers experiences have been. I want to know what he's been through and yet I'm never entirely sure I'm ready for the reality of war. I've seen his scrapbooks from Afghanistan and since he is a combat medic many of the photos aren't pretty. Those photos don't get shown to the visitors who ask about his deployment. And I handled them. I cried, but I told myself it was better to see, and understand, than to not know. But as a writer myself, someone who loves words and the images that words can create, I wasn't sure I was ready to see through Sebastian Junger's eyes the bloody reality of the Korengal.
I've been a fan of Sebastian Junger's work for awhile. You probably already know a lot of his work, he's an exceptionally talented writer who has won many awards. War is a companion of sorts to the RESTREPO documentary, which I'm pimping as hard as I can, everywhere I can ( go see it!) because it's such an amazing project and such an urgent one. We're going to be at war for awhile, and many of our spouses are going back for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th deployment this year or next. Learning about their reality is they key - the only key - to understanding how to help them.
I'm only just hitting the second part of the book, and already I've learned I need to go into my study to read the book so DH doesn't see me cry when I read the passages that really hit home.