For maybe a year now, I haven’t had any more disturbing memories of the Western Front. I still can remember what I’ve recalled but I tend not to dwell on it, because those memories were taking a toll on me.
It’s affected me in profound ways. I tend to remember anniversaries related to that life now, I tend to see small things that remind me of the war or of the painfully innocent years leading up to it. I tend to be hypersensitive to every sign or rumor of war, and I always speak against unnecessary military action. I can’t really watch realistic war movies, even when they’re not necessarily about WWI. I’ve started to shy away from any and all reminders of that past as I shift away from a “better out than in” approach and back to a “let it rest” approach.
Still, the centenary of the start of the First World War is upon us. This means another round of anniversaries, and this time, I won’t be the only one marking them. I’m just trying to accept that over the next 4 years, I’m likely to experience many triggers.
Admittedly, some triggers will probably be self-inflicted. I plan to go visit John’s grave next year, before he’s been dead 100 years, and of course this will also mean a trip to Ypres. I really hope I don’t end up making a scene, since I doubt any of the tourists there would understand the intensity of emotion I’m likely to feel. I will do my best to at least keep a stiff upper lip at the Last Post though.
On the plus side, the centenary of the First World War also means a lot of resources previously unavailable to me- particularly the 2 KSLI war diaries- will soon be available. The National Archives recently began a project to digitize these records and I will be anxious to see what, if anything, is noted about one Pte. John Harris. I might finally discover what killed him; my memories are so vague and the end was so quick, I don’t think even he knew.