Iraq war widow tells powerful story of personal tragedy
There are stories of war we are used to seeing: the soldier as action hero or the wounded warrior returning home. Then, there are the war stories that are not so familiar, of the families left behind.
Artis Henderson's “Un-Remarried Widow” is one such story, an exquisitely sensitive portrait of a new bride whose marriage is cut short when her husband is killed in the Iraq War.
The book's title refers to the characteristically dry, bureaucratic language used by the military to describe a woman in Henderson's situation. As if writing in passionate defiance of such a barren label, Henderson tells the story of her relationship with Miles Henderson. They had different backgrounds. Artis grew up poor, the only child of a single mother, whose father died when she was young. Miles was a Texan and the son of an airline pilot.
Artis has recently graduated from an Ivy League university when she meets Miles, an Army pilot in helicopter training, at a nightclub. Almost immediately they come together, sharing a deep, passionate and breathtaking love for each other. It is that love that sustains Henderson when she moves with Miles to Fort Hood and then to Fort Bragg, N.C.
Artis describes herself as a fish out of water in the intensely insular life of a military community. Feeling isolated and lonely, she moves back home with her mother when Miles deploys with his unit to Iraq.
The relationship with her mother is key to her coming to some understanding of her past and the death of her father, and of how she grieves the death of her husband. She writes with unflinching honesty of her grief and in a way that puts herself, at times, in an unflattering light. But that's what makes this memoir so poignant and authentic. The writer hides nothing.
Love and loss in time of war is a story shared by thousands of wives and husbands, parents and children, brothers and sisters, who have lost a loved one in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But those stories seldom get told beyond the immediate family and a few trusted friends.
In the hands of Henderson, her tragedy is redeemed by a beautifully written story that is deeply personal and powerfully universal.
David Tarrant is a staff writer for the Dallas Morning News.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh-born George Benson’s book looks at origins of his sound
- Pittsburgh author: ‘Supernatural’ generally can be explained
- David Sedaris tries hard, but doesn’t want to seem like it
- Psychic, elephants drive Jodi Picoult’s latest novel