Inner Peace After War Pt II “The Reaction”

Finding Inner Peace After War – A Story Shared.

People are sometimes intrigued by my jewelry. They ask questions often about where I got them, what they mean, and how long I’ve had them. To me, the beauty of each piece is the story behind it. Every once in a while I’m asked which one is my favorite. This happened to me a few weeks ago after an incredible trip down the river.  I was chit chatting in Mandarin with a Taiwanese couple from LA about my time at DLI, my time in war, and my subsequent life change.  They were interested in knowing more, and we had begun to draw a decent sized crowd, so I switched over to English.

When they asked me which piece was my favorite, I paused.  I hadn’t told the story to anybody but one couple at the very beginning of the season this year.

I looked at them solidly and said simply while holding the peace sign hanging from my neck, “This one for sure. How I got it’s an intense story, but if you’re into it, I’d love to share it with you.”  They nodded enthusiastically.

A few more people gathered, and I shared THIS story with them (If you haven’t read it, NOW would be the time).

By the end of the story, the couple who had asked had their mouths open with slight smiles playing on the corners of their lips.  The wife told me in English I had given her chills.  They gave me a few, “I’m glad you made it here,” and a, “Thank you for sharing that.”

Another woman had hesitantly approached to listen when I started the story.  I recognized her immediately as one of the passengers from my boat; the lady who was seeking “the guide with the most experience on the trip.”  I had been certain she wasn’t excited about having her request answered by being brought to the boat with the teenage punk looking girl with crazy curly pink and blue hair, 20 bracelets, and a blue bandana.  She had asked me dryly where she could sit to avoid getting wet. When I told her she probably wouldn’t get wet since it’s not a white water trip, she then asked where was the safest spot to sit, and how many years I’d been doing my job. She hadn’t been smiling at that moment, and although I saw her face light up several times and even halfway relax in the raft,  neither was she smiling in this moment.

She was standing completely still sans her wringing hands. We locked eyes, hers brimming with salty puddles of bubbling emotions.  Saying nothing, I walked to her and embraced her. We stayed that way for a while, while announcements were made. I let go of her and looked her in the eyes, nodding. My name was about to be called off, and everyone was about to be directed to look our way. I stepped back as Ben made a flamboyant gesture which I matched in flamboyance.  The crowd laughed and cheered.  Another announcement was made, and the tourists were released to go find their guides and “thank” them personally for their trip down the river.

I looked back at her as soon as the crowd turned away from me and she said, tears now streaming freely down her cheeks, “My son committed suicide a year ago.  If you feel it getting too difficult, please talk to somebody. Ask for help.” She was sobbing now.  I hugged her for a long moment, while the other passengers began to create a line to tip and thank me.

I gave her this website and thanked her for her courage. I assured her that although I’ve had tough moments, there was never a threat of suicide in my mind, nor did I ever plan to have one.  She smiled sadly and hopefully before promising to read this blog.

So this is dedicated to the woman who touched my heart that day on the dusty banks of the Chilkat River.

Although I’m not a big supporter of titles and have since forgotten her given name, I haven’t nor will I ever forget the intensity of the knowing moment we shared before she walked onto the waiting bus nor the lasting imprint she left on my heart.

Thank you.

To me, there’s nothing stronger in this world than a woman who continues on after the loss of a child.

If you’ve been so lucky as to never experience a loss of that magnitude, remember, tomorrow’s not guaranteed.

Be as kind to those you love as you possibly can, and NEVER pre-judge a person’s reluctance to trust, because you NEVER know what they are fighting inside until they choose to share.

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3 Responses to Inner Peace After War Pt II “The Reaction”

  1. Mark July 8, 2012 at 3:40 AM #

    Hi Rita,
    My family and I recently experienced the eagle preserve raft trip with you…it was the trip where we saw the grizzly in someone’s back yard on the way back to Haynes and Megan turned the bus around. Perhaps you make so many of these trips that they all run together but it was an experience we’ll not soon forget. Anyway, it’s taken awhile for me to peek in at your blog, but after reading your recent posts, I had to leave you a little message…you might remember that when we were having our lunch, I asked you how a nice Puerto Rican girl ended up as a raft guide in Alaska. You laughed and said it was a long story, and your recent posts explain just a little of it…let me first express a sincere, personal THANK YOU for your service. We’ve just celebrated Independence Day, and I hope that you have taken a little extra satisfaction in knowing that you’ve personally helped secure the blessings of liberty for the rest of us. I can well imagine that when you’re in combat in a hellhole like Afghanistan, it would be easy to become cynical about the big picture when the struggle is to stay alive day-to-day. I do believe America makes a difference in the world, and that you and your comrades are the point of the spear that makes that possible. Unfortunately, sacrifice is part of it…a heartbreaking part. I don’t mind telling you that I cried when I read about your friend Kevery…and cried again when you spoke of finding peace…and love in Alaska. Good luck Rita…you deserve some!!

    • Hurricane Rita July 8, 2012 at 5:01 AM #

      Hard as it may be to believe, Mark, my trips rarely mesh together into one continuous memory. I remember your trip quite well…and I remember when you asked me that question! In fact, Grace, the awesome 11 year old from San Diego has since named that big ol’ bear Tom. WE actually haven’t seen him along the highway since!!! I got some pictures of Tom since then from Patti (another passenger on your trip). I appreciate you taking the time to read the stories!!! 😀 I’ve got another one I’ll post tomorrow that’s not as heavy, but just as uplifting, hopefully. 😀 I don’t mind telling you that I cried when I wrote about Kevery and again when I wrote about finding peace. I’ve been incredibly lucky…although fellow soldiers joke that my experiences could be open to interpretation… 😀 I find when you do what you know is right for you, the Universe assists in amazing ways!

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