The End is Near!
I’ve started this post 56 times, maybe more. Too glib. Too serious. Too something.
My tour in Afghanistan is over. Well, almost. As I write this, I’m not quite home. As a Reservist, I have to go to a gulag known as North Fort Hood for demobilization. This is the military process of turning you back in to a pumpkin…but the French toast in the Dining Facility is fantastic, so I’m okay.
I have a million thoughts and contradictory emotions going through my mind, each trying to occupy the same space I am excited to be home. I am terrified to be home. I can’t wait for things to get back to what was normal. I want things to be different. I’m so glad to not see the exact same people when I go to the shower, breakfast, lunch, dinner, gym, office, church etc. I already miss them. Well, okay, not all of them, but just about. I don’t want to think about Afghanistan. I don’t ever want to forget it. It was an amazing experience that few people have. I don’t really want to do it again.
I can’t wait to see my wife and children. I’m looking forward to BBQ, Christmas with the family, a return to being an assistant prosecutor, and a bathroom in the same zipcode as my bed. I’m also ready to live on the edge…you know…without the “Big Voice” telling me when lightning has been seen within 5 nautical miles of the base, walking around in the evening without a reflective belt, and running while wearing earphones (oh, the humanity!).
Just as I laugh at a memory, or think of another, “one time, at fat camp” story, I remember. Twelve soldiers passed before my salute, covered by our Nation’s flag. I didn’t know most of them. I don’t recall names, but I remember sending them home. I didn’t do anything noteworthy, as they did. I am not a hero, as they are. Frankly, my wife and children made greater personal sacrifices than were asked of me in the combat zone. That said, I don’t think anyone can be witness to war and not affected in some way. I have been given a gift those men were denied. I feel compelled to do something with it. I don’t yet know what.
My thoughts then turn to the people I had the privilege of serving with. They will forever be the people I served with in Afghanistan. Accountants, cops, lawyers, students, teachers, and engineers coming together from Florida, Missouri, Texas, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, Virginia and South Carolina to make a base in a combat zone run smoothly. It was amazing to see.
What a ride! I think it may just take a while to process things. Maybe you just shove it all in a mental box and drive the kids to practice. I don’t know.