The Bravest Soldier

by - November 11, 2013

Birth is war. It is raw and visceral and it changes you and you are more and bigger than yourself and trusted with a world that is suddenly and completely changed. Never again can you be that girl you were before the birth that tore you wide and stitched you into a new woman with blooming sustenance and earnest parent-eyes - you are, forever, transformed - you are, forever, bound - you are, forever, mother.

So it was for her. She held him and she loved him even as she bled from his coming. She kissed him and knew he was her beloved and forever wasn't long enough, nor could eternity contain the heart that now beat for him.  

He looked up at her with wide, wet eyes and reached tiny fingers to brush against her collar bone and was safe in the cocoon of her warmth and the sweat of her skin and the tear that trailed down her cheek and fell onto his own.  

She wiped her face and saw herself in his eyes.  "I will never stop loving you," she whispered.

He was forever that miracle, a circle of warmth that lay in her arms that first hour. She remembered his softness as she straightened his collar and squeezed his hands that held his cap.  She kissed his face and he brushed her cheek with his cheek.  "Don't cry, Momma," he told her.  "I'll be home before you know it."

"Promise?" she begged.

"Promise." And he winked and he was excited because he would see the world and war was like a movie and he would live forever.

She clung just a moment longer, breathing in his smell of youth and immortality and a hint of that first moment when he was fresh.  "Look at the moon every night," she told him. "I will look too. It will connect us."

He kissed her again and shouldered his pack and fell into line with all the others who had said their goodbyes.  "I will never stop loving you," he said. 

And she watched her heart board a plane and she took her empty home and every night stood on the back porch to gaze upon the face of the moon.

He did not return as he left. He returned as something cold to be placed in the ground. He came as a memory. He came with a gun salute and a folded flag. That day she learned that grief was exactly like love and the moon was cold and her broken heart would spill the pain of her sacrifice every moment she was given breath - his name would be forever on her tongue - she would never forget the gift he was - and her heart-song would always be, "My son, my son, I will never stop loving you."

The snow was wet and heavy and it gathered on her collar. The poem was read, the scripture spoken and the anthem sung, pale voices to the stark skies. 'God keep our land.' But He hadn't saved her from her brokenness - she wasn't free. 

She looked on the poppies, blood red against dark uniforms and the petals were pieces of her heart - they all wore her heart on their breasts while her own beat withered - frail and shattered.

She stepped forward, boot slipping against the wet pavement as she pulled her hand from her glove and pressed her fingertips to his name.  "I will never stop loving you," she said and the tear that burnt down her face carved a trail that spoke of a million before.

"Remembrance Day" by Elaine Harriot

She felt a warmth in her other hand; a clasping - fragile and tender - and she looked down to see a mitten, the hand of a child who gazed up at her with eyes the colour of his and her breath caught as she saw all of her loss swimming in the ocean of that innocent gaze.

The child gestured for her ear and she bent against her age.  With a hand cupped around young lips, the child whispered sweetly in her ear, "I think mothers are the bravest soldiers of all."

[NaBloPoMo Day 11]

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  1. Wow. Poignant. There are no words to describe how it touched my heart.

    1. Thanks Cassie! I had an image of a child and an old woman at the cenotaph and it grew from there.

  2. It's a good piece of writing when you're reading along and after a short while, the words disappear, you forget the fact that they're just thin strokes on a screen or a page, and you literally just feel immersed in a moment. This was one of those pieces.

    1. Wow! That's an incredible compliment! Thank you!


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