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A Journey Home: Poems from Walter Reed

The Journey Home: Poems from Walter Reed

I'm a social worker at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I have the honor and privilege of working with and getting to know our soldiers, veterans, and their families. They have made and continue to make extraordinary sacrifices.

They are resilient and have tremendous courage. I’m so moved by their stories. They help inspire me to write poems about them with a message of hope. I’m thankful to be a part of their lives.

 

A Journey Home

I remember the day you dropped me off at the station
You were pretending to be brave
You smiled the way you always do when you’re scared
You told me you were proud of me and kissed me

You told me you loved me and called me your little sparrow

I watched you as you waived to me
I pressed my hand against the window
I kept watching you until I couldn’t see you anymore
I was scared too

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw
How could I have been… how could any of us have been

I heard people screaming
Not out of anger
But out of pain
I saw people praying for death
My heart ached for them

At nights, I’d buried my face in my pillow
And cry myself to sleep
That’s when they haunted me
When I’d wake, I could feel the burning in my eyes and in my lungs
My pillow was soaked
They were still with me… they never left

I could feel my innocence slipping away
I was a stranger to myself
Nothing made sense anymore

Eventually, I made it back home
Except it’s not home anymore
And I’m living someone else’s life

Today, I’m still fighting… but this time, it’s a different fight
It’s not easy but I’m doing it….not just for me…..but for all of you
We made a promise to each other…..to never give up
Those words mean something

I’m a better person for knowing you

I have hope for a better tomorrow
And the courage to heal

I promise I will never let you down
I will always honor you
I know you would do the same for me

All for one… And one for all

 

Return To Me

After her accident, I couldn’t talk to anyone
I couldn’t stop crying long enough to speak
I wore sunglasses everywhere I went
I was scared to death

In my darkest days, I was clinging for any sign of hope
I searched her face… desperate for any clues
Could she hear me… She had to be in there somewhere
I would’ve given anything to be able to reach her

There were so many times I watched her while she was sleeping
My little angel

The day you were born was the happiest day of my life
When you were born…..I was born
I remember holding you for the first time
I looked at you… and my heart just melted
I thought I could protect you from anything
You changed my life forever
I rubbed your head and sang to you

Even with the curtains drawn and the lights dim
You’d still curl up just like my little angel
And as I rubbed your head, I’d sing you the same song
You’d look at me and smile
It was a look I recognized
Our eyes would lock and I’d smiled back
You’d kissed my hand
We were both comforting each other… Just like we always had
This…..was my clue

When I look back, I wonder how we ever got through those times
There was a lot of uncertainty but we had to be patient

As expected, there’s still some challenges
With love and determination
We see the different changes in recovery
We’ll continue to go through these changes together, as a family

We were so thankful to have the best treatment
They gave us the answers we needed
Their care and commitment was clear from the beginning
They still continue to support us on our journey

Today, like all families… we have our good days and bad days
And we’re facing them together.

With our faith and everybody’s love and support
You gave us a second chance
We’re able to heal and find peace
We’re able to move forward

For that, we are forever grateful

 

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