This will be my last post from Iraq. In a few days, I will leave this camp to begin the trip home. My office is no longer mine as of this morning, and my internet connectivity will be very spotty from here on out. I will post once I get home, from my living room after hugging my kids and kissing the most important person in my life.
My Darling Wife, Pam.
This year has changed me. Pam and I have talked about those changes, and I know she fears them a little. Physically, my knees hurt more, my hearing is shot, and my hands get numb from the constant weight of body armor. My hair is greyer, the bags under my eyes darker. Emotionally, I have changed too. Don’t worry darling. I am returning home a different man, but I believe a better man. Certainly a man far more thankful for the blessings in my life.
We have had our challenges this year, and we have overcome them, I hope. Trying to remain connected and together across 9 time zones with unpredictable internet connections, messaging software that works intermittently, and dreaded communications blackouts is difficult at best. Add to that the challenges of raising 3 children alone, sometimes having to be in 3 places at once, and having to answer the inevitable “so how is he doing?” question and I marvel at how she has remained sane. She may tell you that she really hasn’t, but what else can she do? Life goes on. But my darling, you are amazing.
Each time I leave, she stays. She is there when I return. I smile and promise never again, and a few years later I am off to save some little piece of the world again. And still she stays, raising the 3 most precious human beings God has ever graced the earth with. I can hear in their voices and see in their eyes the question each time I return; “When is he leaving again?” And this time the answer is I am done. This is a younger man’s game. I can teach, I can mentor, and I can counsel, but for me the fighting is done. They have paid too high a price already, and the world needs to be grateful for what they have sacrificed too. It’s their turn. It’s Pam’s turn.
What have we shared over this year? We have shared being alone. We have shared each others challenges and emotions and outbursts. We have shared the pain of missed birthdays and anniversaries and holidays. We have shared angry moments that have come and gone, and anger that may be yet to come. In a very short time, we will share the connection of staring into one another’s eyes again at last. And such beautiful eyes they are.
In the months to come, there will be times that I need to sit in silence. And we will sit together, holding hands, and share the solitude.
I love you, my darling. See you soon.