“It is my shoulder. The wound aches, and the memory of darkness is heavy on me.”
“Alas! There are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,” said Gandalf.
“I fear it may be so with mine,” said Frodo. “There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same, for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?”
Gandalf did not answer.’”
Gandalf had fought in the same war as Frodo, and so understood the wounds that are often unseen, yet remain deep within those who fought. Changes that occur within anyone who has seen conflict are little understood by those who never have done so. It seems to me that often even my beloved wife, Kathy, just doesn’t get it despite the many times I have tried to explain my wounding. Enduring the unendurable and moving on (“Just get over it already!” is something I have heard) is, at best, an exercise in futility. Even speaking with other Veterans can be less than helpful as we each have experienced a different part of ‘the elephant’ that is experiencing combat in its various forms. ‘Seeing the elephant’ is a descriptive phrase first used following the Civil War of those who had fought.
“In some military quarters, having "seen the elephant" has been used as shorthand for having experienced combat.”