Arts & Culture

“Did Your Husband Kill Anyone?”

Question: "Did your husband kill anyone?" Finally, after nearly a year of waiting, my husband will soon be back in my arms. Sweat drips from my palms. My knees knock, and the constant stirring in my stomach makes me wonder … Read More

By / February 20, 2009

Question: "Did your husband kill anyone?"

Finally, after nearly a year of waiting, my husband will soon be back in my arms. Sweat drips from my palms. My knees knock, and the constant stirring in my stomach makes me wonder if eating was such a good idea.

Will I still look the same to him? Will he notice my new wrinkles? Will he care about my bloodshot eyes? I’m terrified that I haven’t done a good enough job making sure the kids know him. Our daughter has been so angry, and our son has been fatherless. What if they turn away from him, breaking his already broken heart? What if we are no longer in love?

All these questions hover and collide in my mind. I pace through the house, urging them to leave my crowded brain. My excitement is impossible to contain. I call anyone who will listen. "He will be home in three hours." "Two hours." "One hour." Their shared excitement allows them to tolerate my impatience. It feels like ages since I have heard his voice bounce off these walls. These floors haven’t felt his weight, and my face hasn’t felt his hands. My heart pushes against my ribs, and time continues to drag.

As I drive, blindly, to pick him up, a horrific question begins to cloud my mind. It hovers, threatening to destroy my excitement, and I worry that I will not be able to keep it at bay.

Did he kill anyone?

What would it do to us if he did? What would it mean to me if I knew that the man sleeping next to me took another person’s life? Did he shoot someone? Slit someone’s throat? Bomb someone? How will it affect him once he leaves the bombs, gunshots, lost "brothers" behind?

Was he scared? Did he regret it? Did it affect him? What did it feel like? Did he watch them die?

War is death, and I am well aware that he has been at war. But that was the soldier in him. The person coming home is supposed to play with children like death never touched him, and he is supposed to hold my hand again as we causally stroll through the park. Can these two people co-exist within him? Would I be able to separate the two?

All of it weighs on me, and I begin to worry that I won’t be able to just kiss him, hold him, and welcome him back into our lives. The kids chatter behind me, and I drive, my knuckles white with fear, toward our reunion.

I have prepared myself for a distant husband. A remnant of a marriage. PTSD. I have dissected every possibility of how he may come home to me. But I haven’t prepared myself for that I-did-what-I-had-to-do answer: "Yes. I did kill someone."

I pull into a parking lot full or armored trucks. My fingers fumble with the keys until I finally remember how to turn off the ignition.  I feel my feet hit the ground, and I search for his familiar gait, boots, and profile. He runs from behind his truck, lifts me from the ground. I smell him, the sweat and tears. He sniffs me, the perfume and faint aroma of fear.

Those terrifying words push and prod my mind. I try to push them into the shadows of my mind. I look in his eyes, the ones that soaked me in on our wedding day, the ones that watered as he told us goodbye, the ones that have haunted my dreams for months. His hands move through my hair, over my face, and I feel the rough calluses against my wet cheeks. I pull him close to me, and whisper in his ear, "Welcome home, baby."

Answer: I don’t know.