The Toughest Battle; Repairing the Damage of War
Anyone who has seen combat, or loved a combat veteran, know too well that surviving a war does not mean the battle is over. Here is a raw look at that second battleground, told by our much-loved William “Monsoon” Mimiaga. When many Vietnam Veterans are asked, when were you in Vietnam, the response is often, “last nite.”
I am one of those thousands, who left Vietnam, but Vietnam never left me.
Though I was an outstanding and highly decorated Marine, up through the ranks, and retiring after 31 successful years, it came at a tremendous personal cost; I was truly an absentee father, good at fighting wars but a poor example for a Dad. After my 1st wife of 19 years, Arlene died of cancer, while we were stationed in Hawaii, I regressed, buried myself in work and my contact with my children over the years became limited to non-existent. A combination of those personal losses were greater than I could handle which sent me into a tailspin. In addition, I was in personal denial to many problems with my mental health and emotions (PTSD) of which, years later, I was diagnosed and rated.
This past weekend, I drove to Carlsbad Village, and was reunited with my oldest daughter Britta. For many reasons, all on me, we had been separated for years. It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life and hugging her and listening to the stories of growing up, took me immediately back to much happier times. Britta is her mother, the love of animals, the love of the sea, her free and adventurous spirit. I so enjoyed that moment, sitting with Cooper and Rob, a young man who used to date Britta, when they were in high school and like Britta, overcame personal and emotional hurdles to find success.
Britta had graduated from college, worked in Tennessee at an elephant refuge, worked for over a decade at the San Diego Zoo as a trainer and now has her own Animal Training and Pet Services. Rob has been a Yoga Instructor for the past 25 years, and now owns “Baba Coffee Bistro” in the Village. A child that I loved and Rob who was like family, all those years and special times that I missed out on, can never be replaced, but for all my Veteran family, who have been estranged from their kids;
It is never too late to reunite and find happiness.
I have seen the happiness on the faces of many of my “Band of Brothers,” who have reconnected with their family and friends. John, my personal and forever brother, beams everyday, talking about his daughter who he has reconnected with. This lonely journey, that I have been on for decades, is now erased with my heart being full once again. Recrimination no longer, just hugs and unconditional love.
Mahalo Britta, my elephant daughter, for once again, opening the door and allowing me in. You are your mother’s heart! Tears filled my eyes clouding my drive home.
I have reconciled with my two boys that I love dearly, Michael and Alexander, and with my daughter Millie, trying my best to be the best Dad. One daughter to go and my journey will be complete and no longer carry such a heavy heart.
“Never let go of the rope,” search for that peace and tranquility.”
Oooooorah and Semper Fi.