We are all the same!

by James Murtaugh, Feb 4, 2002 | Destinations: Vietnam / Halong Bay

Halong Bay, Vietnam, Jan.2002. We are on a nice boat. Our guide does not speak english well and seems bored. Another couple on the boat has their own guide. He likes to joke and is very friendly. All of us come to like the man. He is wearing a black armband. When we are alone I ask it's meaning. He tells me his father has died. That night I'm on the roof of the boat. The stars are shinning in the sky everywhere I look. I'm thinking about standing watch on some godforsaken hill in 1967. Looking up at the sky on a night like this wondering if these are the same stars fly over my house on the other side of the world. Is this war just a nightmare? Will I wake up in my bed at home? Footsteps on the ladder. It is my friend with the armband. He tells me that he can't believe his father is gone. I tell him after my father died of reaching for the phone to call him and remembering that he is gone. Of seeing a man from the back, walking down the street thinking he is my father and remembering he is gone. I tell him it gets better with time. He wants to know how we mourn in America. How often we visit the grave. We speak of the meaning of life and death. Of what it is like to loose friends in war. And I speak words to this man that I have never said to anyone else. The afternoon of the next day it is time to leave the cruise. A boat comes out to bring us to shore. I seek out my friend to say goodbye in case his tourists are staying aboard and we shake hands. Back on shore I see him looking for me. He just wants to say goodbye just one more time. In 1967 we might have been trying to kill each other in the DMZ. Today we are only sons who have lost our fathers and in a way we are brothers.

* * * * *