Sunday, July 3, 2011

I See... The Pain of Freedom

The Mormon Third Eye is a staunch Patriot. For proof, readers can review my previous Independence Day postings on Freedom Fighters, what happens when free people do nothing, and the Angel of Freedom. It was only natural, then, when I stood up in Sacrament meeting this morning to sing our opening hymn, the Star-Spangled Banner, that I was moved to tears.

Only I wasn't moved to tears; at least, not by the words of a patriotic anthem. I was experiencing the pain of freedom. Two days earlier, I had an infected molar removed, and now pain dominated my upper body. I thought it was under control enough to participate in church services this morning until I opened my mouth to “Oh Say Can You See...” It was at that exact moment I learned that the oral gyrations required for singing also produced searing pain pulsating from the hole in my mouth where a tooth used to be and instantly filling every part of me above the neck with sensory horror. My brain involuntary responded by pushing seemingly several liters of tears out of my eye sockets.

I had only a few seconds to invoke acceptable coping mechanisms. I could immediately cease singing, then dramatically clutch my jaw and whisper a gracious groan just loud enough for the wife and kid standing next to me to know that all-consuming pain was ruthlessly beating me like that bully did in the second grade so many years ago. They would understand, I rationalized to myself. After all, so many people in this chapel relied on much more puny reasons to justify avoiding the hymns; crying babies, throat surgery, Alzheimers, etc...

Lucky for me righteous guilt kicked in. I pondered on the lives lost and the families destroyed by the ultimate sacrifices made by soldiers in the snows at Valley Forge, the fields at Antietam, the farms in Germany and Europe, the mountains of Korea, the jungles of Southeast Asia, and the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. The price of freedom was inestimably high for them; for me it would be merely two more puny pain-filled musical minutes of tears and fears.

It was then that pain seemed more manageable. Life would go on for me after the song was over; not so for the WWII pilot shot down over the Pacific or tank driver blown away by a roadside IED outside of Baghdad. I arrived at the “land of the free... and the home of the brave!” and slumped back down on the pew to mentally recover and prepare to partake of the sacrament. The least I could do is finish the song in memory of unfinished lives.

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