On My Own with Asher

December 8th, 2022

On Monday I took my little grandson, Asher, for his semi-annual checkup. The pediatrician determined that Asher was in good health, while stating the obvious,

“He’s a big boy!”

Indeed, he is. At the age of two years, Asher far outstrips most of his contemporaries with regard to height and weight. As a friend of mine once noted about the lad,

“A serious fellow and a force to be reckoned with.”

Oh yeah.

The doctor ordered blood tests for Asher. One was to check for anemia. I don’t remember what the other tests was for. I took Asher to the lab, and two ladies took a tiny sample of Asher’s blood. One of them told me,

“Okay, sit him on your lap. Yeah, like that. Hold this hand down. Good. Oh, and avert your head. Don’t have it directly behind him. Toddlers like to head butt when we take a sample.”

I’m familiar with that. A few days ago, I had Asher on my lap. For whatever reason, he slammed his head backward and nailed me in the middle of my face. I put him down quickly and grabbed a Kleenex to staunch the flow of blood from my nose. That hurt. I haven’t been hit in the nose that hard since I was in plebe boxing at West Point. I managed to stop the bleeding while teaching Asher a few more words that he probably shouldn’t know.

Asher has been teaching me things too, especially during the last couple weeks. My wife, Karin, is currently in Texas. She is there helping our daughter-in-law, who just gave birth to our newest grandson, Wyatt (You can get away with naming your kid “Wyatt” if you live in Texas. At least, the boy wasn’t named “Bubba”). In any case, Karin is down south, and I am up here in Wisconsin as the sole caregiver for little Asher.

I have a Buddhist friend who has told me that everything can be my teacher. I think that’s correct. I have found that small children are often excellent teachers. Asher certainly is. Usually, we have the notion that adults are supposed to teach the little folks. That is in fact true, but instruction is a two-way street. An adult can learn an awful lot if they are open to the lessons offered by children.

So, what does Asher teach me?

The number one lesson is patience. Asher is generally low maintenance for a two-year-old, but he’s still a toddler. Asher makes loud and persistent demands on me (e.g., feed me, change my diaper, bathe me, hold me when I am upset, etc.). Caring for Asher is the priority. Anything that I want or need to do takes second place. I have to be willing to postpone my desires until Asher has been satisfied. I have to be patient, and I’m not good at that.

The second lesson is to accept change. Asher is a work in progress. He changes and grows each and every day. Every morning Asher is somebody new. This week he learned how to play the harmonica by himself. He can climb up on chairs now. He can speak in sentences sometimes. The kid is growing and developing before my very eyes.

There are other things that Asher has taught me, but I haven’t found the time to put them into words. I’ve been busy. I guess I’ve learned to accept whatever happens during each minute while I am with him. There is no point in judging whether something is good or bad, and there is in fact no time to do so. I have to be totally in the moment with him. Asher requires constant vigilance. I don’t think much when I am caring for Asher. I just do.

Asher is asleep. Thank God. He is taking a well-deserved nap. The boy has a head cold, and he is not looking and feeling his best. Neither am I. It is one thing to care for a healthy child. Caring for a sick toddler is a whole other level.

I love Asher. I bitch about caring for him, but there is nothing else that I would rather do. In some ways, I am closer to him than I am to my own children.

Love Your Enemies

December 2nd, 2022

A few days ago, I wrote a post about a bag of antisemitic propaganda being thrown into my driveway. I was upset when I wrote the essay. I still am. My anger has cooled somewhat since that time, but I still feel unsettled by what happened.

Was what happened so bad? That depends on a person’s perspective. I mean it could have been much worse. The Jew-haters could have painted a swastika on my door. When these people cruised through my neighborhood tossing hate flyers into yards, it wasn’t like another Kristallnacht. However, it was still intensely disturbing to me.

It was scary.

I received a number of responses to my essay. One of them struck a nerve. A longtime friend of mine wrote this to me:

“Remember what Jesus said, to love your enemies. Don’t let their hatred infect you. Don’t stoop to their level, Frank. See them as spiritually sick, as they surely are.”

When I first read that message, I was irritated. I thought to myself,

“C’mon, really?”

Then I thought some more.  My friend is right. For my own spiritual and mental health, I need to love these people. But how?

Well, I can pray for them. They came to my house anonymously and in the dark of night, but I can try to imagine who they are, and why they have such twisted thoughts and feelings. The truth is that I already know people like the folks who dumped bigoted filth on my driveway. I have met people like this.

Many years ago, I was stationed in the U. S. Army in what was then West Germany. I lived on the economy. That is, I rented an apartment from a German landlord. I lived in a little town called Ravolzhausen. I spent a great deal of time interacting with the German locals, especially my landlord and his wife.

Once in a while, my landlord would invite me to his apartment to watch German TV and drink beer. I remember one time when he decided to show me some pictures of when he was a young man. He pulled out an old black and white photo. In the picture he was wearing a Nazi uniform (brown shirt) with a swastika armband. He was grinning in the photo. He was grinning when he showed it to me. It became obvious to me that my landlord had no regrets about who he had been back in the old days. That image of him sticks in my memory even though forty years have passed.

My father used rail against the Jews. He didn’t sugarcoat it. He called them “Kikes”. The antisemitic propaganda that was chucked into my yard a week ago was all familiar to me, because I had already heard versions of this stuff from my dad. I grew up with this sort of thing. Somehow, that made reading it so much more emotionally intense. It was almost like listening to my father’s voice.

Getting an unexpected gift of hate triggered some very unpleasant memories and feelings for me. They are hard to express, and harder to handle.

Can I love my enemies? I don’t know. I guess this is a test.

Nazis in the Neighborhood

November 28th, 2022

“These flyers have been distributed randomly to inform the public about the dangers of Jewish supremacy.”

“Sharing facts is not hate.”

“The truth fears no investigation.”

quotes from an anonymous bigot and Jew-hater

I am reluctantly looking at the flyers that an unknown person tossed into my driveway last night. They are small sheets of paper that came inside of a plastic sandwich bag. The copies are crude and amateurish. The written contents of the flyers are vile and disgusting. The writers would have made Josef Goebbels proud.

The sandwich bag also contains tiny pebbles to weigh it down. Apparently, the producer of these anti-Semitic diatribes is in the habit of driving slowly through residential neighborhoods at night and chucking bags of filth into the yards of unsuspecting homeowners. I am not the only person to receive this dubious gift.

The author of these flyers says that “sharing facts is not hate”. That is true if all the facts are shared in balanced way. Every effective lie contains some facts. The carefully selected facts make the lie believable. The person who wrote these flyers is promoting a lie, and it is a lie based on irrational hate. His or her “facts” are simply tools used to slander and threaten a whole group of people. Twisting the truth in this way is time-honored tradition among anti-Semitics. It has worked well for centuries.

I am not a Jew. I am a lifelong Catholic who also attends services at an Orthodox synagogue once or twice a month. One of my closest friends is a devout Jew. We meet together almost every week. I have learned much from my friend, and from the other members of the shul. My encounter with Judaism has changed my life, and possibly made me a better Catholic.

I found the bag in the driveway last night and I initially thought to throw it away. I didn’t. I read the contents of the plastic bag and became enraged. I also became frightened. I took the insults personally. The bigot who wrote this crap was going after my friends, and perhaps after me.

I spoke on the phone today with a woman from a local Jewish organization. Her group tracks this sort of hate activity and alerts relevant law enforcement. I told the woman about what happened. She sounded sympathetic and world weary. She already knew things about the people who distributed this material. What I told her was not really new. I find it incredibly sad that this incident is not something new. It’s just a variation on a sick and twisted theme. The lady was grateful that I reported the event, but it was not as alarming to her as it was to me.

I didn’t sleep much last night. My toddler grandson didn’t either. The little boy was restless. He was often nestled in my arms. I thought dark thoughts as I held him and listened to his quiet and regular breathing.

My grandson has a Jewish first name. His mother has his name tattooed on her arm in Hebrew. What if these Jew-haters get their way? What happens to my boy? What happens to his mama? These questions can be easily dismissed as the feverish imaginings of an upset old man. But are they? We know from history what has happened in the past when hate has won.

I despise the people who gave me their bag filled with hate. Mostly, I despise their cowardice. Are they Nazis? Who cares? Whoever they are, they work anonymously and hide in the shadows. Brave and honorable people don’t do that. The people who threw their anger and bitterness into my driveway are weak. They are gutless. I try not to hate them, but I can never respect them.

I am going to give the bag to a Jewish woman who will use it as evidence. I can’t stand to look at it, or even touch it.

It’s like handling dogshit.

Guardian Angel

November 26th, 2022

“Angel of God
My guardian dear
To Whom His love
Commits me here
Ever this day
Be at my side
To light and guard
To rule and guide. Amen” – Catholic prayer to guardian angel

I remember learning this prayer very early on in my life. It was a prayer for me to say just before I crawled into bed at night. It is a very Catholic notion to think that there is a powerful celestial being whose primary job it is to watch over a specific human child, or maybe a specific human adult. Perhaps other religious traditions have a similar idea. I don’t know. I do know that it is not a bad idea. As I enter my old age, I see the wisdom in believing that there is someone, somewhere, who is watching over me.

It’s 4:00 AM. My toddler grandson, Asher, sleeps in next room. He sleeps the sleep of the innocent. It has been many years since I slept that way. For some hours I laid next to him. I kept waking up, checking on him. I placed my index finger on his wrist to feel his tiny pulse. I could feel its rapid beat. I could hear the gentle rhythm of his breath. Whatever dreams Asher had; they were and are good dreams. May it always be so.

Many years ago, at least forty years ago, I was an Army officer stationed in West Germany. I was wild then. I used to party hard with a Finnish helicopter pilot. I woke up in his apartment one morning after a night of debauchery. The man’s wife gave me some breakfast. She was concerned about her husband, who was still sleeping. She looked at me and asked,

“I take care of Jukka (her husband). Who takes care of you?”

That was damn good question. I did not know the answer then. I am not sure that I know it now.

The guardian angel concept seems flawed. The implication is that this angel will keep a person from all harm. Clearly, this is not so. We all get hurt, and we all die. So, what does our angel actually do?

I think that the angel keeps us from doing what is worst in our nature, and the angel nudges us to do our best. I think of the German film, “Wings of Desire”. The angel urges us do what we have always been meant to do, from the beginning of all time. Each person has free will, so the angel cannot force our choice. However, the angel can hover over us, smile, caress our cheek, grasp our hand, and whisper in our ear.

What if humans could be angels?

When I look at Asher, I know that I cannot control his future. At my age, I may not even be a part of his future. However, for now, I can watch over him. I can hold him when he cries. I can gently correct him. Mostly, I can show him that he is loved, unconditionally loved.

We can all act as angels, if we choose to do so.

Our Shared Values

November 16th, 2022

Now that the elections are mercifully over (for the most part), we can turn our attention to other matters. Thanksgiving is almost here, and it is possibly the only national holiday that doesn’t inspire controversy. It’s kind of a nonsectarian, feel good, kumbaya sort of day. We get the chance to gather with friends and family. We get to sit back, overeat, and enjoy being Americans. Maybe we even take a moment to be thankful.

So, what does it mean to be an American? There are over 300 million different answers to that question, and all of them are probably right to a certain extent. I would like to think that we, as Americans, share some basic values. Honestly, I’m not sure what those are. I’m not sure that anyone knows.

For several years I helped to teach a citizenship class at Voces de la Frontera in Milwaukee. I met once a week with green card holders who wanted to become Americans. As part of their citizenship test, they had to know the answers to one hundred questions about the United States. Many of these questions concerned the U.S. Constitution. I talked to the students quite a bit about the questions. They just needed to memorize some standard answers to successfully make it through the interview with the representative from USCIS. I wanted them to do more than that. I wanted them to have at least some understanding of how our government works.

Anybody who has been in the U.S. military has taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic. Of course, not many of us have actually read the Constitution in its entirety, and those who have waded through the document can’t agree on what it all means. The Constitution is our country’s secular Bible, our official operator’s manual, and like most sacred texts, it is a cause for endless argument and dispute.

I remember discussing with some students about how presidents are chosen. I asked one of them,

“Who elects the President?”

He gave the required response, “The American people elect the President.”

I asked, “What kind of government does the United States have?”

Approved answer: “The United States is a democracy.”

Then I decided to explain the Electoral College to the students. That was a hideous mistake. While describing how our elections work, I told them that it was possible for a person to lose the popular vote, but still win the presidency in the Electoral College. I looked at the students and saw blank stares and confused faces.

Uh oh.

I backtracked and said, “You’re right. The President is elected by the American people. Just go with that.”

We also talked about the Bill of Rights. They needed to know some of the basic rights of Americans. The students could tell me that Americans have freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. I asked them what these freedoms actually meant.

Dead silence.

I tried to explain freedom of religion to them. I said,

“Okay, a devout Jew is not supposed to work on Saturday, the Sabbath. What if the Jewish person’s boss insists that the man or woman comes into the office on a Saturday? Does that violate the Jewish person’s freedom of religion?”

Things got very complicated very quickly.

I tried another question, “What about a baker who won’t bake a cake for a gay wedding because they believe doing so goes against their religious beliefs? Can the baker refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple?

Once again, lots of controversy.

I asked these sorts of questions to make the students think. I wanted them to understand that Americans believe in freedom, but somehow, we can’t agree on what these freedoms are.

At the end of the classes, my students were well aware that the American way of life is riddled with contradictions. They knew that our system of government is confusing at times, and usually dysfunctional. They understood that some things in the United States are unjust. They came to the conclusion that politics in our country are at best messy.

They all decided to take the test anyway, and almost all of them are now citizens.

We can be thankful for that.

Just a Glimpse

November 11th, 2022

“Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” – “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

I get up dark and early. It is a habit that I can’t shake from all the years that I worked on third shift. I didn’t mind crawling out of bed at 4:30 AM on Tuesday. I was looking forward to seeing the total lunar eclipse. As I got dressed, I noticed that the moonbeam coming through the skylight was gradually getting dimmer. I walked out our front door and stood on the porch. I gazed at the western sky.

It was cloudy.

I thought to myself, “Really?”

The sky wasn’t completely overcast, but I couldn’t see the moon. I knew that the eclipse was happening, because the sky was so black., but I couldn’t see the darkened disk. There were a few small gaps in the cloud cover, but they weren’t nearly enough. I stood in the cold wind and waited for a break. I finally gave up and went back into the house.

Yesterday, Karin and I took our little grandson, Asher, to the Milwaukee County Zoo. We got there rather late, and we couldn’t see much before the zoo closed down for the day. We decided to take Asher to the primate house. He got to see the gorilla and the orangutan. He saw the spider monkeys and the macaques. Asher enjoyed our short visit. He was fascinated by the animals.

I was fascinated by the information concerning the future of these primate species. Almost all of them were listed as being “endangered” or “critically endangered”. There was a sign that stated that the orangutans would be extinct in the wild within ten years. That shocked and depressed me. Asher won’t even be a teenager when that happens. These animals might not exist a decade from now.

It hard for me to be optimistic about Asher’s future. What kind of world am I leaving for him? What will it be like for him when climate change really kicks in? What challenges will he face? Will he curse my generation for screwing it all up?

I wish I could know that Asher and his contemporaries will be okay, but I can’t. I may not even get a glimpse of his future. I just have to have faith that somehow things will work out for him. I can help him as best I can while I am here with him. That’s all I can do. That will have to be good enough.

Early on Tuesday morning I walked back outside one more time. It was still well before sunrise. I looked to the west. It was still overcast, but the clouds were getting brighter. The eclipse was nearly done. There was a momentary break in the clouds. I could only see part of the moon. For a second, I saw a ruddy slice on the lunar surface where our earth still blocked the sun’s rays from striking it. Then it was gone.

It was just a glimpse.

Some Things Won’t Change

November 3rd, 2022

“To some men peace merely means the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference. To others peace means the freedom to rob one another without interruption. To still others it means the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt their pleasures to feed those whom their greed is starving. And to practically everybody peace simply means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to their animal appetites for comfort and pleasure.

Many men like these have asked God for what they thought was ‘peace’ and wondered why their prayer was not answered. They could not understand that it actually was answered. God left them with what they desired, for their idea of peace was only another form of war.”

– Thomas Merton, Trappist monk and author

The mid-term elections are only five days away. These are being advertised by the media, liberal and conservative, and as being of enormous importance. The news outlets would have us believe that the fate of our country hangs in the balance. The politicians say the same thing. There may be some truth in all of this handwringing, but some things won’t change, regardless of which side wins.

Our country’s attitude toward war will remain the same. Our federal government will be run by hawks. No politician, Republican or Democrat, will risk being labeled as “weak on defense”. Full and unconditional support of the military is necessary for a person be elected to office at the national level. We have been at war for so long that it is risky for a member of Congress to even question our military exploits.

Let’s look just at our country’s current involvement with the war in Ukraine. It is true that we do not have boots on the ground in Ukraine. However, it should be obvious to anybody paying attention that we are participants in a proxy war against Russia. The reasons for our backing of the Ukrainians are complicated. Is it simply that we are concerned with Ukrainian freedom? Probably not. Do we actually want to crush the military forces and the economy of Russia in order to eliminate that state as a Great Power? Possibly. Is it wise for us to give full-throated support to Ukraine when the Russians can use nuclear weapons in this fight? Who knows? We don’t really know how dangerous this situation is, but we should at least talk about it.

The progressives in the Democratic Party were pilloried for even suggesting a negotiated peace in Ukraine. On the right, people like Tucker Carlson have critically examined our involvement in this war. They have also been loudly censured. Most citizens of our country don’t mind blowing up people and property that are far away. It appears that Americans seldom find a war that they dislike, at least until it causes them some discomfort.

I was never in a war, and that was pure luck. I served as an Army officer, but I never saw any fighting. My oldest son, Hans, was not so fortunate. He was deployed in Iraq. He got shot, and he killed people over there. I guess, through his experience, I vicariously experienced war. Both he and I were changed.

I know a number of peace activists. They belong to neither of the major parties. They are passionate about ending the killing. These people want something that may never come to pass. They want the United States to give up its addiction to war and violence. They are hopeless idealists, and I was one of them. Maybe I still am, but I have grown weary of shouting into the whirlwind, and having my words blown back to me.

I don’t go to anti-war protests anymore. I seldom contact my elected officials about our military activities overseas. I don’t write letters to the editor like I did in the past. It’s not that I don’t care. Maybe I just don’t care enough anymore. I greatly admire the peace activists who keep at it year after year after year. I’m not as strong as they are, or maybe I’m not as crazy.

Or maybe I’m just part of the problem.

A Glimmer of Hope

November 2nd, 2022

“Hans plays with Lotte, Lotte plays with Jane
Jane plays with Willi, Willi is happy again
Suki plays with Leo, Sacha plays with Britt
Adolf builds a bonfire; Enrico plays with it”

from “Games Without Frontiers” by Peter Gabriel

Karin and I took our toddler grandson, Asher, to Kayla’s Playground, a children’s recreation site in Franklin. The park is dedicated to a little girl, Kayla Runte, who had cerebral palsy. On the play area’s website, it states that it is an “all-accessible, all-inclusive playground in Franklin to be inspiring and truly all-accessible for all children and families of any age and ability”, and it is. It really is.

When we take Asher there, he is in his natural habitat. There are usually numerous preschool children running about the playground, always under the watchful eyes of some adult. The population that uses the area is diverse. I am impressed by how many different kinds of people come to the park. Asher mingles with a variety of kids. Some look like him, and many do not.

As Asher played on one of the slides, I looked around. Nearby was a picnic table with two Muslim women wearing hijabs and chatting while they tried to keep track of their little ones. A family that looked like they were from somewhere in East Asia watched their little girl fly past them, her straight black hair bouncing as she ran. I had noticed earlier that the family had a picture of the Buddha hanging from the rearview mirror in their van. A Latino father was helping his daughter navigate the horizontal ladder. He held her up while she swung from rung to rung, saying, “Mano sobre mano, mano sobre mano” (“Hand over hand, hand over hand”). The parents of a boy with thick dark hair and matching eyes chattered to him in an Indian language I could not understand. However, the boy understood, and that was all that mattered. A boy and his sister played on the swings. They had hair even blonder than Asher’s, almost white in color. A Black girl talked to Asher and complimented him on his dinosaur sweatshirt.

The parents, without fail, made sure that their youngsters took turns on the equipment with the other kids. If there was only one plaything available, they made sure that the kids shared. The adults did not interact much with each other. They were all too busy following their children in the swirling crowd. However, the kids played together, and they generally played nice.

As I observed the activity around me, it occurred to me that this was a glimpse of the future. This scene is Asher’s future. He will be surrounded in his life by people from various races, religions, and cultures. He will grow up in an America more diverse that it has ever been. His life will be richer and more interesting than mine has ever been…

if they all can play nice together.

They Keep You Young

October 27th, 2022

A week ago, I went to see my doctor for my annual physical. To my surprise my numbers were all good. The blood and urine tests showed me to be healthy. Blood pressure and EKG were alright. Everything was in the green.

My doctor asked me, “So, are you doing anything special to keep healthy, or is it dumb luck.?”

“Go with dumb luck.”

“Well, whatever you are doing, keep doing it.”

I told him, “I do have a health concern.”

He looked at me with curiosity. He said, “And?”

I continued, “I need to live until I’m eighty, sixteen years from now. That is when Asher, our grandson, becomes an adult. My wife and I are his legal guardians.”

My doctor kept looking at me, and replied, “Well, that puts life into a different perspective. Let’s see what we can do about that.”

After further discussion, he suggested strongly that I get the colonoscopy that is overdue. I reluctantly agreed.

Any number of people have told me that I am lucky to be caring for Asher, our toddler grandson. Our friends keep saying, “They keep you young!”

Maybe.

I suspect that caring for Asher does have some bearing on my wellbeing, besides the fact that I am always tired. I would not say that he keeps me young. I would suggest that he keeps me active and alert, which probably slows down the aging process a bit.

It is impossible to care for a toddler without maintaining constant vigilance. Asher is always into something. It usually requires less than a minute for him to be involved in an activity that is mildly destructive and possibly unsafe. So, mental acuity is essential when I am watching over him. No wool gathering allowed.

Asher, when awake, is in constant motion. He has apparently unlimited energy. When it is my shift to watch the lad, I have to be moving. He is an agent of chaos, scattering objects in his path. He goes through a room like a miniature tornado. I follow him, picking up the debris. It’s not really an aerobic kind of exercise for me, but I am definitely not sedentary. I get a workout.

Asher is doing his part to keep me healthy. He doesn’t realize that, but he is.

I just wish I didn’t feel so worn out.

Drink to Remember, Drink to Forget

October 25th, 2022

A lot of vets drink too much. I know that I have. I don’t know if there are any statistics to back me up, but I think that many people who have been in the military tend to abuse alcohol. I believe this because my personal experience and because of the experiences of other veterans I know. I used to visit patients in the psych ward of the local VA hospital, and almost all of them were there because of problems with alcohol.

If I am right, then why is it that so many vets are heavy drinkers? I think the military environment plays a big role. When I was in the Army, it was often boring, but there also moments of extreme pressure. After those episodes, alcohol proved to be an effective stress reliever. The Army isn’t the only organization with those kinds of conditions. My youngest son is a welder in the Ironworkers Union, and their work gets to be dangerous at times. Ironworkers also tend to grab hold of a bottle in order to relax.

They say that some people drink to remember, and others drink to forget. I think that veterans do a bit of both. Military personnel experience some emotions that are gloriously high and some that are unbearably low. After a servicemember gets out, he or she will want to recall those highs and bury the lows as deep as they can. Alcohol can facilitate both of those desires, at least for a while.

All of this is not necessarily logical. Nobody sits down before a binge and says, “These are the reasons I’m going to get drunk.” It doesn’t work like that. It’s a subconscious sort of thing. Even the term “remember” isn’t quite right. The vet may not be able to remember a specific event, either good or bad. They may just vaguely recall a feeling associated with that time and place. A person either wants to replicate that feeling or drive it away forever. The urge to drink is not about reason. It’s about emotions. It’s about trauma or loss that has been ignored. It’s about making peace with the past.

I can recall exhilarating, transcendent feelings from when I was a helicopter pilot. I will never fly again, and I will never have those same feelings, even if I try to recover them with alcohol for a few moments. I am still haunted by terrifying feelings, and I can’t completely push them aside with a chemical. They sometimes come to me at night, and I scream in my sleep until my wife wakes me up.

So, what to do?

There is no single solution that would help everyone. There is no miracle cure. There is no silver bullet. Each veteran has to find their own way. Every vet has to heal in his or her own way. I have found that writing helps me, as does meditation. Caring fulltime for my toddler grandson is very healing for me. What I do may be useless for another veteran. I only know what works for me.