We drove around and talked about you. We’ve been flocking towards you, like cold people towards warmth. We all agreed that there was a great deal of mystery in the way that you died. That it wasn’t simply a government-sponsored murder, though you are, it’s clear, a victim of the wars. 


That night, I put Bess to bed and Shawn and Liz went to find pizza. They know how to do a wake, which should involve, at minimum, some drinks and some stories. The word we got was that the best pizza in Cedar Rapids is from a Mexican sports bar called Carlos’s, but you have to wait a while, because they’re not used to carryout. So they went there, and did that, and brought back two six-packs. And the three of us sat in Shawn’s room, like it was college, or the end of the world, and we talked about no bullshit. There was no bullshit in that room.


Shawn’s father got sick from Agent Orange, then passed that sickness on to him. Now Shawn and his wife are homesteaders who got land for cheap in a broke-down neighborhood. He keeps hearing from vets and COs who want another way to heal; therapy and medicine are only getting them so far and what they need is ritual and restitution. He knows all the names for PTSD, but what he speaks of is “moral injury.” His remedies are old: work the earth for a year is one, and keep silence. At the end of that year, get dressed in new clothes. So that’s what he’s doing with his life—he’s helping to heal soldiers. And healing is not curing (I can hear you saying this): to be healed is to be made whole.


Liz is like a mother to a whole bunch of undergrads. She knows she’s supposed to be a deacon and in a way she is: she washes feet. And she keeps helping gay Catholics marry, though that’s also off the radar. She takes the long view, always. She has a massive peace in her and it spreads. I like it when Liz curates wine, or beer, and she did so that night, and I drank her recommendations.