PTSD: A Lost Loved Cousin

I heard taps play over picnic grass graves.

It felt good to be remembered kindly for a day

No words of hate shouted, no reminders to my face

The forgiveness of sacrifice, seen in a different way.

I wanted to go like my brothers before me

I wanted to serve with my life, if necessary.

I wanted to be the hero that my father and my uncles are

I wanted to accept their mantle, to be their shining star.

But all I could say when I returned from that place

Was, “No more. I feel like such a disaster, such a disgrace.”

I lived in terror that tore me apart, shredded me inside out.

I couldn’t look in the mirror without hating my every doubt.

I couldn’t reach out for help, because who would understand?

That I didn’t even feel real, that I wasn’t even a man.

I was a soldier without a war.

I was lost in my inner storm.

Although I lost my life, not on the battle-field

My family still stood and by my graveside kneeled.

I heard taps play over picnic green grass graves.

It felt good to be remembered kindly, if even for a day.