The Past and Present Flow Together

I open chapter XVII of The Duke, set on Oahu in 1963, with the words: “The events of the past two days have so tossed my life atop a rough sea of confusion, accidental circumstance and indecision. Is it possible that I can smooth over the gut-wrenching worry and concern about my own inadequacies in dealing with these complexities that I can somehow have a normal life again?”

Let it Be, by The Beatles plays in the background, a tinny rendition blaring quietly down from the cheap outdoor speaker in the overhand ceiling above: “And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree. There will be an answer, let it be. For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see. There will be an answer, let it be...”

Funny how song lyrics can be so spot on upon occasion.

That last year in high school held so much stored up and building, like the water from the river that took so long to flow until Hoover damn was ready to use that waters stored power to serve millions. I left that island on a C-47 that lost one engine on the way across the Pacific to San Francisco. A noisy scary fourteen-hour flight at about a thousand feet above the white-capped and life-seeking waves outside my small window. The dam filled and filled and then did not begin to let go until my Merchant Marine ship, the Daniel J. Morrell sank in Lake Huron, and Vietnam came and my brother died and I lost hundreds of men and was shot three times, to go on and live in a year of miserable surgical hell.

And it hasn’t stopped flowing, that water of life, since that time. When am I to be done? When will I sit back on a rocker moving slowly back and forth atop some unscreened in porch? When I was thought to be dying in the hospital and the surgeons came to say they’d saved me and left, I looked up at the ceiling and spoke to God “please don’t let me go home and live a regular life.”

I believe God answered my unbelieving prayer. Am I ready to pray again and say upward to the heavens “Enough already?”