Friday, 11 November 2016

New Perspectives on Remembrance Day in Canada

This week I give thanks to my ex-husband, Douglas Dutchession, for serving Canada in war. This week has really shifted my perspective on the military and in living in Canada. Six years ago, when my marriage fell apart due to the stresses of separation, I was really angry at the military. After Doug served in Afghanistan, things were hard (my son was still a baby), and even harder when he returned to a toddler and coping with his PTSD. I didn't want to celebrate Remembrance Day. Celebrate!? I didn't buy poppies in November. I didn't watch parades. I didn't want to think about the military and a war that ripped my family apart.

While Doug was away, I was in complete denial of any sort of feelings of fear. In order to NOT feel the fear, I became super mom, and I worked constantly. I cleaned like crazy. I shopped for dogs, cats, furniture and houses...anything to distract me because I didn't ever want to entertain the idea that he could possibly die.

I suppressed my feelings, stuffing them down deep. I lived a long time thinking I was fine. And then last year for the first time, I could really listen to the Remembrance Day sermon at church and cry, feeling the pain of our loss. This year I was able to buy and wear the poppies, listen to the sermon with perspective and be okay. This time I found myself able to smile, and honour what we had, what he had done and there were no tears. I was finally healed. And I am happy with my life as it is in Canada now.

When Reverend Tim Raeburn-Gibson preached about how "no soldier comes back from the war unwounded," that really hit home for me. Yes, that was true. Some wounds are emotional, instead of physical. He and his wife, Kimberly used to live behind a house where a vet lived with PTSD, and there was lots of noise, cursing, drinking...they wondered what kind of family lived there? Then he met the guy at a funeral, and he confided in Tim and told him about his PTSD, and how they had healed, the kids were doing better now, and he and his wife got counseling. They were doing better now. That family was one of the lucky ones.

So I thank Doug for serving in war. He did his job, the one he promised to do, and he was very brave. I could never have done what he did. And people like me are lucky that people like him are willing to put their lives on the line. As a pacifist, I would like to think that all disagreements could be settled with words, but I guess I can see how that is sometimes not possible. And that's why we have police officers too...many unsung heroes putting their lives on the line everyday.

But to conclude...I have new perspective today. Now seeing Trump get elected in the USA (where I was raised) and all the horrible violence in the American news, stuff with kids and schools.... I think, yeah...I am really glad I live in Canada. It's a really good place to live!

Today, after living here 11 years, I have decided to become a citizen of Canada. This living situation is no longer temporary for me. My home is Canada now. I feel that sense of pride now when I sing "O Canada," like I have never felt before. And I feel thankful for the veterans who helped make Canada the country it is today: free, peaceful and beautiful. In the past, I have often dreamed of returning to Virginia for the beautiful weather, but something has shifted in me. There is more to life than ideal climate.

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