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Native Writes: The spaces not filled

Posted: Friday, Jan 18th, 2013

The past few days have been busy, so busy that I haven’t been able to really face what has happened.

Jake, my beloved “other half,” is gone.

I look at a photo and I weep, I sit in a restaurant and I remember, the walls close in, he is everywhere.

Everything I think I learned in college courses on counseling, death and dying cannot be applied by me to me.

People can’t see me cry, I am not a “drama queen;” I keep my emotions in check, at least I want to.

I am meeting people I have never seen and probably won’t see again.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross eloquently wrote about the stages of grief. I go through all of them within an hour’s time and then start over again.

People come to visit and I talk.

I know they want to see me weep. I probably will in due time.

Life throws curves at us and we need to learn to roll with them.

My heart feels as if it will burst and I silence it. The “demons” will not win.

Talking with other people who have lost loved ones — I have experienced deep losses myself — the senses are universal. I drove through the cemetery today and saw where Jake will rest forever. 

It’s close to the places he wanted to rest. Next to his sons? No room.

In the veterans’ plots? too far away.

Yet he is within a short distance from the POW/MIA section, where he hoped to be.

I don’t know how this happened, I don’t think the organizers intended it, but the gravesites in the POW-MIA are not for sale.

The cemetery caretaker advised me that no one but former prisoners of war can be buried there because some veterans complained about committee leaders that are buried there and none of them was a prisoner of war.

We have a couple listed as POW-MIA from the Valley and there are no more that I know of.

That’s not how the late Daniel Sierra asked that it be chartered when he approached the city. It was to be a place where the souls of committee members could join with the comrades and friends who have been held prisoner.

In refusing to sell plots there, the city of Alamosa holds prisoner all of the men and women who have called attention to the plight of those still listed as POW-MIA around the globe.

I estimate that Jake has probably walked about 1,500 miles, maybe more, over the years to heighten awareness of the fact that the war in Vietnam  — and all the nation’s wars — will never be over until everyone is accounted for and home to rest in their native soil.

Until that day, we will not speak of these heroes in past tense. We will not play “Taps” for them and will continue to bring awareness of their plight.

I know Jake is now completely aware of those who are still missing, but he can’t share that knowledge.

He will be laid to rest, not where he wanted to be, but close enough.

He fought the good fight for his fellow veterans, not for a hero’s accolades, but in hopes of justice for not only those missing, but those coming home, that they may be treated with dignity.

When will politics stop coming into play?

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