My belly expanded with my first pregnancy all those months, while she slept underneath a humvee all the way around the world from us. It was the beginning of the war, and so many other things we hadn’t imagined.
We plastered the flag all over our cars and we rallied, that we would “never forget.”
I bought her toiletries and stuffed a box full of things she’d probably miss, like a bar of soap, and toothpaste. Everyday basics suddenly had more value. How do you brush your teeth in the middle of the desert?
I fretted about how rough roughing it would be for her. Selfishly, I ached for the career she’d chosen, I admired her and I ached for her.
Nobody knows who comes home from tours like that.
She carried a machine gun, while I lugged around a belly, swollen heavy with life.
She at MRE’s and I, french fries from Mcdonalds.
We watched the news through our fingers and we wept in front of the deodorant racks in Walmart.
We heard about lives lost on the news. We saw the images of missiles exploding and buildings crumbling.
All those long months she served–somewhere, in the desert. For nearly the entire time, we weren’t even allowed to know where exactly she was.
She slept in the sand, and traveled in the dark, through minefields, led by GPS, and no doubt carried by the prayers of those of us who waited here at home for news.
Any word, any time, just so we could let out our breath and sleep one more night.
The truth is, we don’t know what it was like. The pictures she sent, the stories we would later hear, they brought a breath of reality to us, but even then, she sat at the table to tell the stories. It’s not that way for so many.
There are tables all over the world where seats sit empty and stories go untold, unheard–for the souls who’ve been taken by war.
We were lucky. My sister came home.
She came home with stories and more than a rucksack full of weight to be sorted.
She came home with a Bronze star (twice), though she’ll probably be annoyed that I told you that.
She serves like my Father before her, and as my brother would, later.
She serves, like the thousands of others who have gone before her.
And we are so thankful she came home.
I don’t know how she did it. But I know she is strong, and I know she is brave.
I know she’d do it again, if she were called to.
She is my sister, my hero.
Today, I say thank you to all who have served, my friends, family, and those whom I have not met. Your willingness to sacrifice, to risk, to go whenever and wherever you are called is a great gift to this nation–one I will never forget.
Counting beyond 1000 Gifts
the military soldiers and their families
a husband’s unfailing love
children too giggly to eat lunch
late night talking with a friend
friends who pray
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