At about 1700 yesterday, we began a corn hole/cookout/gathering in our backyard with our friends Dave and Katie and a few members of Katie’s family. We’ve met Katie’s mom before, but were blessed to also meet her sister and her father this visit. At one point sister Carrie said to me, “Who does this?! Who has strangers over to their house for the night?” Only in this military life, Carrie. In this life, you hang on to the people who want to spend time with you, and they become like family because we’re much too far away from our own mothers to receive hugs – and sometimes ANY mother’s hug will do. We laugh and eat and have a few drinks and sit outside until it’s much too late because those are the moments we live for and we find ourselves overwhelmingly thankful for the entire evening. Thanks, Dave and Katie, for AGAIN sharing your beautiful family time with us. And thanks, Carrie, Tom, and Meghan, for including us as one of your own. You’ll never quite understand what that means to us.
And then, after dinner, my favorite part of life happened. We all sat outside enjoying the beautiful evening, and a bit awkwardly a question was asked: “What led you to becoming an infantryman?” What unfolded from that moment on was my hero opening up his heart and sharing from it’s deepest parts with an audience of people who literally sat as students at the master’s feet. They were so attentive to him, listening and hanging on to every word. They were curious and understanding and appreciative. For maybe the 5th time in his entire 13-year-career, he heard some amazingly heartfelt words from people who told him with tears in their eyes that they were standing in the gap of a grateful nation who is much too quiet about their appreciation for his sacrifices. They were surprised to hear that he is, almost immediately, “normal” again after a deployment, though there are moments of an earth shattering breakdown from time to time. That this Marine who is trained to fight and kill and watch people die came home to a six month old daughter and immediately fell into the role of best father ever.
Thank you to these amazing people for listening to my veteran share his experiences, for caring about what he has experienced, and for appreciating his sacrifices. Truly, that makes all the difference and energizes us for the seven years we have until retirement.
Semper Fi, my love. You, my hero, choked me up again last night. Thank you for allowing me to share life with you – the good and the bad. Thank you for trusting me with your experiences so much so that as you retell your stories, it’s as if I lived them with you, when you look to me to confirm your details. This adventure is more amazing than anything I had ever imagined would be blessed to me. I am beyond proud of you, ecstatic to share my moments with you, and well aware of how blessed I am to be counted a part of this “The Few, The Proud” life with you.