It's been 5 months since I left you standing on our doorstep. Our daughter on your hip, she couldn't understand why you were crying. I remember you explaining to her that Daddy was going to be gone for a while and that it made you sad, but that I would come home just as soon as I helped get the bad guys.
We both knew that she didn't understand and that the burden of explaining where I was, day after day, would fall on your shoulders. I remember how you both stood on the porch, waving, until my car was out of sight. A miniature version of you both in my rear view mirror, my last memory of you as I prepared to join the others in my unit for our deployment.
Well today is the day that I come home. No more sandy boots, no more clothes that smell a week old after one day from sweating through them, no more MRE's for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no more ducking from sniper fire and no more killing. Today, I'm coming home.
You started writing me the day before I left. My rucksack had a note in it which I found when I emptied everything on my rack. When I read it, I saw those three words that helped me every day in that hellhole, "COME HOME SOON".
I was the only member of my unit that received a letter every single day. Haha All the other guys were jealous and commented on how lucky I was, and that is what they called me for the rest of the time I was there, "LUCKY".
Our daughters beautiful pictures adorned our tent, not just over my rack, but over everyone's. The single guys started asking for them so they could remember what they were fighting for. My heart swelled with pride every time I walked into the tent. It gave me purpose, and resolve. I was determined for this day to come. The day I came home.
Well today is that day. No more tanks keeping me awake at night, no more helicopters blowing sand into our tent, no more guns, no more anger and no more hate. Today, I am coming home.
As the plane taxi's to the terminal, I can feel your presence, I can sense your longing. I know you are there waiting for me.
You come to the window and place your hands on it. Our daughter mimics you and you stand there side by side, waiting.
You see them roll me out, the American flag draped gently over my casket. Your silence turns to tears, your tears turn to sobs, your sobs turn to wails. Our daughter starts crying and you fall to your knees and bring her in close. She is crying because you are. she's not sure why, but she knows she doesn't like it when Mommy is upset. We both knew that she didn't understand and that the burden of explaining where I was, day after day, would once again fall on your shoulders.
Today is the day I get laid to rest. No more fear, no more pain and no more longing, but also, no more sunny days, no more walks in the park, no more laughing over dinner, no more movie night, no more nights on the town, no more snowball fights, no more baby girl, and no more you.
But know this, because of you,
### I have never loved harder or more deeply
You and our daughter gave meaning to a meaningless existence. You turned a boy into a man. Your love powered me through some of the darkest days of my life.
I was proud of my country
I was proud of our daughter
I was proud of you
Now comes the hard part, as we say our final good byes, I want you to know that I understand.
My life is over, but yours is not. I try to summon any part of me that can still reach you to let you know this. Do for another what you have done for me. Give someone the gift of your love. Let our daughter know the joy of having a father in her life.
I can only hope that you can find a man that will love you the way I did. Someone who will fight for the right causes, and protest others with passion. Someone deserving of you. Someone who will help my memory fade and bring you back the happiness you deserve.
I love you....