Two more days until Baghdad. 48 hours, precisely, until we start the invasion.
I wonder if you will watch it on TV as the bombs drop. Probably not. If I know your mother, she will not turn on the TV that day. Instead, she will play the Moonlight Sonata, over and over again, hoping somehow I will hear it and driving you crazy in the process. So, perhaps, you will look it up on the Internet. You will read that Baghdad has a zoo of 650 animals, and you may wonder how many will survive when your father is done with it. You will see it has about 7 million people, and you will wonder how many I killed. You may see before and after pictures. You may see even me, Marshall, Hendrix, Kerry, or Jazzman. You will read that the locals want to burn us alive. You will wonder if I am okay (of course I will be). You will read that the Americans won.
I’d tell you not to read it but that would be the wrong advice. If you are my son, you probably have the guts. No, I want you to read all of it. Every single word. If you will be angry with me for what you see, there is no wrong with that. If you want to break my picture, that’s fine. If you will worry, and even want to shed some tears, do it. If you want to miss school that day, you have my permission. But at the end, I’d like one favor. Ask why. Why are we here? Why are we doing what we are doing?
I can give you the answers I was given. Or I can tell you my reasons. I am here because, at night, I still believe that I need to leave a better world behind for you and for your mother. And because I have to believe that, when the raid is over, the images you see on TV will make your sleep a little safer, even if they give you bad dreams. In short, I am here because this is where my country needs me to be. A man has desires, wishes even, but he also has a duty. So, as the clock ticks, here are more of your lessons:
9. Pick a duty, and do it every day. (This is in addition to your first duty which is to take care of your mother; see Lesson 8.)
10. Read the paper. I started with the Seattle Intelligencer, but now I read BBC online.
11. Don’t – no matter how tempted you are – smell your socks before putting them on. If your mother sees you, she will tear your fuzz nuts apart. She has a point: if you need to smell it, you probably should not wear it. (I give you this lesson because Jazzman just smelled his socks and threw them my way. It is perfectly fine, under these circumstances, to call your buddy an asshole.)
12. Men, for some reason, tend to regress to animals when we are together. From burping to bragging. Enjoy it!
30 Nights of Snow ©2013 Ani Surnois
7 thoughts on “Aiden’s Letters…”
I love reading these letters because they are a glimpse of what is in his heart. You witness a natural leader in the role of a father. He shows his protectiveness, love, and compassion for his family. You’ve created characters that are victims to the different hardships of their lives, yet, it makes them stronger. From this, you show the world how men and women should be. Thank you for sharing your writing. It has taught me more than any other piece of literature has.
I’m curious: Did Aiden ever write directly to the mother of his child? Will we see him writing letters that are only addressed to her?
Hey H, thanks for this! Yes, he did write to the mother. The first letter to his mother appears in the chapter Three Women from Aiden’s POV. The others I may add. He admittedly wrote more to his son because, as he says in Three Women, he tends to get a bit tongue-tied when he addresses the mother (much like he gets tongue-tied with Elisa).
I love the letters he writes his son. How he is confident in the advice he is giving. He has right to be, it is great. I adore how he is unsure the type of father he will be however when you see his letters, even just one, you know beyond all reason he will be a GREAT FATHER. He is the father that keeps it real, tells it how it is, while instilling values & morals that have come from his own blood, sweat, tears, & even abrasive self- love in the desert. He is the father that will shelter just enough to ensure confidence & security. He is the father that above all else will make sure his child knows he loves him all the while teaching him how to be a man one day, one letter at a time.
Well done, Ani!! Well done!!
Thanks Andrea!! You are so right – in my mind, he would make a great father. Hopefully, someday he will see that. 🙂
Any child should be so fortunate to receive letters like this from their father that contain such warm, love, strength and adoration written in each line. They are beautiful. Shows that under his gruff exterior beats a compassionate heart. Aiden sounds like he was born for the role of father more than that of a soldier. Thank you for the opportunity to look deeper into this troubled man’s soul.
In this short letter you just gave a very important lesson that every young man should be taught. When Aiden says, “A man has desires, wishes even, but he also has a duty,” I got the chills, because in that sentence, he isn’t only speaking about duty in war – but duty in life. To take care of your mother, your own wife, your children. And then your duty as a man, a human being, a citizen of your country. As flawed as Aiden is, his sense of duty is his most admirable trait. His mission ways on him. He sees the humanity in war, even through is allegence to his country. How can you not love a man like him.
Also, I found his processing of his internal battle in regards to the invasion very interesting. He’s processing his own guilt through his son. For the soldiers who don’t believe in their mission, how do they go through it? In the way Aiden explained it. Out of duty. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking and self-less. Brava!!!!! You continually surpass all my expectations.
I have loved every glimpse you give us of Aiden through his points of view, but it is through these letters that I feel I am getting to know him best. His voice is so strong, clear and true.