Barbara Child put her heart and soul into a letter to her partner, Alan Morris, while he was at the cottage they shared in Florida and she was away at school in California. He was a Vietnam War veteran, and she was taking a seminary course on war—in particular, the Vietnam War. She turned in her letter as a term paper for the course, calling it “An Open Letter to a Vietnam Veteran.” A little more than two years later, the war finally took its toll on Alan. He put a Colt .45 to his head and pulled the trigger. Barbara read part of her letter as the eulogy at his memorial service.
That letter led to one thing, then another. Eventually, Barbara began analysis with a Jungian psychologist and shared the letter with him. She began talking more and more about Alan. She began writing more and more about Alan. From those writings came this book.
Memories of a Vietnam Veteran gives a partner’s-eye view of post-traumatic stress and moral injury relentlessly taking their toll on the body, mind, and soul of a veteran who served as a medic in the Vietnam War. The book also shows how Jungian dream work with an expert, caring analyst can bring forth memories and the meaning of memories both sought and unsought. Ultimately, this book is both a labor of love and an impassioned outcry on behalf of all victims of war, whatever their part in the suffering.
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About the Author
When Barbara left academia in 1993 after 15 years in law, that was her second retirement. She left to go to seminary. A Unitarian Universalist, she became an Accredited Interim Minister, and she retired for the third time when she completed her last full-time interim ministry in 2010. Since then the second edition of In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations was published, edited by Barbara and Keith Kron. Forthcoming in 2019 will be the collection of readings and rituals she has edited for congregations in times of change and transition.
Barbara does not anticipate any more retirements. She continues to mentor ministers and serve congregations as short-term consultant. She lives in her log cabin in the woods of Brown County, outside the small artists' colony of Nashville, Indiana. She expects to die a long time from now, either composing editorial notes at the computer or pausing for the next thought with a pen in her hand.
Table of Contents
Author’s Note 9
Prologue – Agents Provocateurs 13
A Lifetme Is Too Narrow to Understand It All 21
Chapter 1 – Living in Florida 23
Chapter 2 – An Open Leter to a Vietnam Veteran 51
Chapter 3 – Dying in Florida 79
Chapter 4 – Mementos, Memorials, and a Ritual of Grieving 99
PA RT T WO
I Will Wait for You 109
Chapter 5 – Alan Will Be Coming Soon 111
Chapter 6 – Digging Deeper 123
Chapter 7 – Bringing Forth 133
Epilogue – The Sword and the Snake 151
Afterword – In Country 157
For Further Reading 171
War – Accounts from War Correspondents and Veterans 171
Post-Traumatc Stress Disorder and Moral Injury 176
Edward Tick’s Journeys of Healing and Reconciliaton 179
The Ant-War Movement and the Killings at Kent State 184
Jungian Psychology, Analysis, and Dream Work 192
Poetry and the Search for Meaning 193
Sources Cited in the Text 194
About the Author 197