Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Disclaimer follows post.
He comes to visit me these days when I'm feeling sad, when I'm missing my old dog (who died exactly four weeks ago today). Sometimes he sits on the couch. More often he lies on the bed next to me, staring at the ceiling, talking.
He's a young soldier, maybe 18 or 19. He has short blond hair, fair skin with a few adolescent blemishes, squarish face, dark eyes. His frame is boxy though his arms and legs are skinny. He has an accent, maybe W. Virginia or a bit further west - Tennessee or Kentucky? It's not the soft, classy drawl of upper class coastal southerners. He calls himself "Vince" and addresses me as "ma'am" even though I've told him that is not necessary.
Apparently Vince has been a soldier in many of his lifetimes, always (so far) on the losing side of the conflict. He has never been an officer or anyone removed from the front lines. This life pattern is so ingrained in him that by comparison, life as a dog was a "pass" as he says. He says it was so easy, he was amazed every day that he never had to worry about being hungry, thirsty, about being too hot or too cold or overworked in any way. Even so, he's not too interested in being a dog again. His goal is to rebirth as a soldier on the winning side of a war. I guess that's a worthy ambition. I guess.
Vince tells me that dying by way of an anesthetic overdose was "a rush," and "beats hell out of" dying on a battlefield, thirsty and bleeding, in horrible pain or numb, listening for hours, sometimes even days, to the moans and groans of the dying soldiers around him. Better than dying of the flu, or from wound infections in fly infested field hospitals, too. Dying by anesthetic overdose was like water skiing, he tells me. Strange comparison, don't you think?
When the sadness abates, or I get sleepy, he always looks at me carefully for a minute or two. Then he says, "Goodbye, ma'am," and fades away. That Vince is so sweet.
Disclaimer: I'll be the first to admit that this might be all in my imagination, or that it's a psychological technique my unconscious is using to unwind from losing my one and only dog. Since I deal with dead soldiers all the time, I prefer to think it's "real" but please remember I'm a bit looser with my definition of that idea than most. Don't worry - I'm no further off the deep end than usual. Really. I'm OK.