Sunday, November 20, 2011

Standing By

I have a cold that I can’t shake. Everyone I know has or had this cold and all my hand washing, zinc lozenges and vitamin C did not save me. But I’ve been fighting this like crazy because today I was giving a talk on my book about military mental illness and I really, really wanted to give that talk. I love talking about the men—the China Marines—that I interviewed for this book and their stories of survival. But this dam cold and constant cough--I knew I was in danger of my voice simply disappearing mid-sentence.

So I prayed--for God’s will and acceptance--and to get my ego out of the way. What mattered was that the stories got told and that the China Marines –Donald, Frenchy, Gene and Bones--lives got witnessed. Then it hit me. I could ask John to go with me, and he said yes. He would read if I couldn’t.

I loaded the podium with hot water, throat spray and cough drops and I explained to the audience that my husband might step in to read if my voice disappeared. John was standing by.

I read for the whole 55 minutes. I told the stories of men who served and survived and thrived—men who were my teachers. And after I finished reading I opened my mouth to say “thank you” and my voice was gone. It was a gift to be able to give the talk and John was beside me to take over.

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