Compassions Thread

In the Wake of War
Compassion's Thread
And the Best of Humanity Emerge

By Linda Atwill, Ph.D.
Linda Atwill, Ph.D., Author of Compassion's Thread
"The greater task to master is to thrive in the process of surviving, which in turn helps one to survive."
Chapter One

Late Autumn 1972 - Dallas, Texas
Visitors Upon the Porch

The knock at my apartment door was unexpected that wintry fall night in 1972. Soberingly chilling realities would not merely come uninvited to visit, but to reside in me forever.

I do not remember exactly whom the two young men were who stood in the darkness upon my porch nor if they were winded from walking up the two open flights of stairs to get there. I had been cooking dinner. I rinsed my fingers and dried them on the way to the door. The door opened inward from left to right. It is interesting the details one remembers about momentous events that irrevocably alter one's life.

My memories have always been multi-sensory, almost as if I am transported back in time. They are not mere thoughts, elusive and intangible, they are real of what they are. I feel them. I hear them. I smell them. I taste them. I can still feel the texture of the cup towel against my hands and the contrast of the warmth of my home to the foreboding wintry chill of that late fall night when I opened that door.

The soft light that spilled through the doorway must have cast itself indiscriminately onto the unlit porch, but in my memory, it shines precisely into the darkness illuminating only a man's wrist and hand and the manilla enveloped he held.

"Hello," I said, more as a question than a greeting, conveying that I was surprised to see them. They were two of Steve Musselman's fraternity brothers. They were my friends, as were many of the members. But why were they here this night? I tried to read their faces.

"Oh Dear God..." I pled inaudibly as I felt myself wince, a wave of dread coursing through me.

"No! No, Dear God, please," every fiber of me inwardly, silently screamed. I steeled myself against the dizzying reeling, the painful gripping in my throat and the burning that raged behind my eyes.

"Did they find him?" I asked, braced for learning if he were alive or dead.