National Geographic : 2005 Nov
WAR LETTERS THE LIVES BEHIND THE LINES Grief is a very selfish, lonely thing. Nobody teaches us how to do it properly. So we just have to make up the rules as we go along ... some days are OK, some are bad, and sometimes they're just awful. But we learn to go on. I've had to redefine "normal." Normal will never be the same. -Gloria Caldas,to her son'sfiancee THE WAR IN IRAQ GloriaCaldas dreams about her son, Ernie (in photo at left), who was killed by a roadsidebomb in Iraq. "The dreams are so vivid," she says. "Hisvoice is crystal clear. He tells me that he's OK." Ernie's voice is alsopreserved in dozens of e-mails he sent her, the last discussing his upcoming wedding. Forgenerations,wartime letters passed between those on thefront lines and loved ones back home have often provided the clearest views of armed conflict. Whether scribbledin afoxhole or com posed at a kitchen counter,each serves as a reminderof the mark war leaves on every human swept into its path.