I slept in an extra hour this morning. It’s a holiday. I got up to coffee that was automatically brewed minutes before I woke. I wrapped a cozy comforter around me and wrote this note on a fresh page of my notebook with my favourite pen, on my handy dandy lap desk.
Later this morning I will lay a wreath at the cenotaph.
I thought about it yesterday when I went for my run in the heavy fog. I thought about all the brand name items I put on to make my run comfortable. Special socks and special shoes, layers of under and outer wear, shells to put on or take off as the temperature dictates. I strapped on my heart rate monitor with GPS, and I put on my headphones attached to my iPod. But first, I checked the weather conditions on the iPod, then checked my email and my Facebook pages. Only then was I ready to head out into the foggy morning.
The soldiers who bought this life for me had none of that. Probably not even the iPod. My brother-in-law tells me his father got to visit Italy. Only I bet he would have preferred not to. His visit was part of the Italian campaign of WWII. He marched day after day, week after week, not knowing what each day would bring. Not knowing when it would end. Or how it would end.
Total Allied and Axis soldiers who died in the Mediterranean theatre was close to 1 million. 1 Million! And that was only in the Mediterranean.
As I ran in the fog yesterday the sound of my shoes on the pavement echoed in my ears. I’ve run down that road hundreds of times. I know it well. It leads into a quiet little park where the odd time I’ve seen fox or deer. I tried to imagine being thousands of miles from home, lonely, cold, wet and exhausted. But frightened. Not knowing what the thick fog might hide. I could scarely see 100 meters. What would it be like fearing what might be hiding in it? What would it be like to be in dense forest where every tree might hide someone ready to kill me? What would it be like if the last days of my life were filled with that kind of discomfort and fear?
And I can’t. I can’t imagine it. All I can do is be grateful. Grateful, because they paid the price. I am free to not know the horrors they kept at bay. Grateful to sleep in a nice warm bed and wake up to freshly brewed coffee. And freedom.