Sometimes I still see them. Faces marred with soot and dirt. Hair disheveled, eyes wide with a mixture of fear and pain. So similar to myself in both hair style and attire, that the only diffrence lay in vague facial features that could never be noticed from a distance. Holding to a wound that leaked life in such a fashion that mans ability to stay would never over come. Listening to lies of 'Its gonna be ok', 'help is on the way, just hold on', or 'we're gonna get you outta here. You'll be home in no time'. Though, perhaps that last was the most truthfully dishonest. We were going to get them out, they would be home in no time. For what is time to a man in a casket?
And again I feel the sorrow, and relief.. Sorrow that the life of a brother was doused at such a tender age and fashion. Sorrow that he will never again see his family, nor they know the warmth of his smile and embrace. Relief that it was not I being held and lied to as the life passed away from me... Relief knowing that, had I been a little to the left or right, a little slower, or a little fast, it would have been me. Then the guilt... the guilt that I was not faster, that my aim was not true. That I survived while they did not, and guilt that I am relieved by that fact. For what right to life do I possess that he did not?
Sometimes I still see THEM. The remnants of a battle. So diffrent in appearance to me, not simply in physique, but hair, clothing. Left where death did claim them. Yet their eyes where not so diffrent from those men who I held as the breathed their last. Filled with pain and fear. And I wonder, did they have someone speaking comforting lies to them as they passed? Did they pass scared and alone? These same men who I have fought and slain. For their sakes I hope not, yet for those of my bethren they have slain, I hope so. A conflicting emotion I admit, but I do wish them peace in what ever afterlife their faith has in store for them.
I admit it has at times crossed my mind to join those that I have lost, and those who's lives I have taken. Even more so recently. I have written my farewells more than once. I have placed the edge of the blade to my wrist, the tip of the dagger to my chest, the noose around my neck, the poison to my lips. I have contrived ways in which to arrive at that one time mortal event. Some peaceful, others in a fashion to emulate my life. Going down in a blaze of glory so to speak... if any glory is to be found in such an act. Yet my hand is stayed. Perhaps in some part for the same selfish desires everyone has... the desire to be remembered long after you are gone. Not for the bad, but for the good. I once read, the evil that men do live long after them, the good men do is oft interred with their bones. I would not have the memory of me stained by selfishness by one final cowardice act.
I am not so fickle a being as to believe the hands of fate are guiding me. In truth I believe in fate not at all. I believe each one of us, makes their own way, their own path, and our choices as individuals determine the outcome. It is not some preordained prophetic life handed down to me, it is one I make by my own will and decision. By that belief, the choice to live, or die... is mine and mine alone. It is not fate that stays my hand, nor simply selfish desire. It is simple really, or so I tell myself.
I am a fighter, a defender. There are those I have sworn to uphold and defend. Those that depend on me for that which I have been trained my entire life to do. I am a warrior, and the warriors path is not one of fields and flowers. It is hard, it is difficult, it can break you... oh it can break you. But it can not defeat you unless YOU let it. Those that walk this path bear the scars, both physically and mentally. We are a band of brothers and sisters who share a bond that needs no words. We are of a diffrent ilk. Some times haunted, but always ready to do what is required. To stand and fight, protecting those unable. It is a lonely life more often than not. Even when surrounded by friends and family... The regret, dispair, hopelessness, anger, and crushing sadness is always present. Even when surrounded by those family and friends, it feels like you are all alone. But it is our life. We chose this path, we walk it... perhaps battle worn and weary, but we walk it. That is why I live on, that is why my hand is stayed from the blade, the poison from my lips. For what warrior, what defender... would surrender all, leaving those he has sworn to protect and uphold.. now more fragile than ever.... to pick up the pieces?