I don't know what it is like to go to war. I've never done it.
But I know what it's like to love a soldier. To sit with them as they sort their belongings into piles and carefully pack and re-pack that green bag. To walk with them as they cross a bustling parking lot and toss it on to an already full truck. I've watched them trying to stay busy in those final hours before boarding a plane. And I've walked away, willing myself to look back, but knowing I would never figure out how to start breathing again if I had to force myself to turn away one more time.
I've seen the inside of hours that never go away. Months that never end. I've read letters and written letters and stayed up all night hoping for phone calls. I've listened to half details and tired conversations that end abruptly. I've spent my life praying that the change in his voice, that edge, wouldn't always be there.
I've been to those homes. The ones where they aren't coming back. Where the deployment really won't end. I've cried with them. And sat with them . And looked through photos and listened to the emptiness they can't escape.
I know what it's like to look into the eyes of a stranger and realize that they belong to the man you love.
I know what it's like to love a soldier. And I know that you cannot see war and return home unchanged. They sacrifice that time and that distance and that safety. But more than that, they sacrifice a piece of themselves they can never get back.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-- John McCrae
All the words in the world would never be the right words. That's why I make cookies.