Monday, December 1, 2014

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.  

I think if I can just avoid being struck dead by a car I didn't hear because I’m wearing headphones while running in the dark without reflective gear, I’ll be moving in the right direction.