It’s hard to believe my book, Thirty Days with My Father, will be published in just over a month. Sometimes I find myself just sitting around holding my galley copy for no apparent reason–or toting it around in my car. This weekend I brought it with me for the 10-hour drive to my friend’s wedding in Louisiana. Sometimes I am afraid if I let it out of my sight, it will go away (and along with it, my dream to make a difference in the world.)
When the general public hears about soldiers coming back from war and the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) they often experience, it’s hard for them to internalize what that means. When the media tells us that war can also affect family members of veterans, it’s hard to connect with such general statements.
But if I told you a story–a story about when I was a little girl, and how I hid away from my father in my bedroom closet because I was afraid of the hollowness in his eyes, the thick pads on which he slept to absorb the sweat from his war nightmares, and the way he stormed through the house, rifle slung over his shoulder like an infant, on one of the hundreds of occasions when he threatened to blow his brains out, then suddenly, I have your attention. I have created an image for you through words, and through story-telling, perhaps I have grabbed your interest in a way statistics or general terms never could. As Tim O’Brien might say, maybe I’ve made you “feel something in your stomach.”
In hearing my family’s story, I hope you begin to care more about veterans and their families. I hope you care so much you tell everyone you can about what happened to us. I hope you tell all your friends and family about this book because you can’t stop thinking about it, or that little girl hiding away in her closet, wishing so desperately she’d die young if this was what it felt like to live. I hope you care so much you take action. It’s the only way the invisible injuries of war will stop wounding throughout generations–if we all end our silence.