For the past 3 years I’ve been privy to and part of a resurrection story. War is hell and we have many, many wounded veterans to show for it. We see them on street corners begging. We hear about the wards full of physically and emotionally damaged men and women who’ve gone to “serve their country” only to come back with scars, seen and unseen, that will haunt and plague them for the rest of their lives.
One such example from my era is my friend Bart. Bart comes from a middle class family just after WWII. Both parents were severe alcoholics and Bart was raised in large part by an abusive woman who was the built-in servant and nanny for the family. While in college, the first time, Bart was going nowhere fast so one day he walked into a Marine recruiting station during the height of the Vietnam war and enlisted.
Fast forward 40+ years. Bart was a fine soldier/warrior whose main mission as an officer was to make sure, to the best of his ability, that the soldiers under his command got back on the plane at the end of their tour in one piece. During that time Bart was awarded several Purple Hearts and other commendations. For months he lived in the jungles where “Bob Hope and the USO never made an appearance.”
As he got older, Bart’s own alcoholism raged while he worked in a responsible job in the world of finance. After a nasty divorce and troubles with his children, Bart hit bottom. I was with him when he went over the edge and it was troubling and scary. I was scared for him and for me during that evening. I realized that he was a Marine, no matter how drunk, and that he could cause me a lot of damage if he lost his wits and turned against me.
We kept in touch afterwards, but it was not pretty. As fate would have it, his body basically collapsed and shut down. He checked into a V.A. hospital and stayed for nearly 2 months of tests and treatments, including a month of detox and group therapy. Unlike for many other, Bart made it through and since that time has climbed back out of the deep hole and rebuilt his life, even having insights unlike any I’ve heard from him, ever.
It’s a beautiful thing. I love Bart. He’s a wonderful, captivating storyteller, a very intelligent man and a dear friend. It has been so gratifying to see him emerge from the fog of war and the fog of alcohol to resurrect himself. He still has his bad days, as we all do, but the trendline is positive and accelerating over the past 2 1/2 years. Never before have I experienced such a turnaround with someone I know, it has been a truly inspiring resurrection that gives hope to me and many others!