Usually when I sit down to write something, I take time to consider my delivery and my audience. I don’t like confrontation or the harsh words that often come with differing opinions. I can’t stand to see the constant backlash that is exchanged between opposing sides. I try to be careful and thoughtful of the many differing feelings and opinions out there.
Today, I’m not going to do that. All of the consideration in the world won’t hold the tide that is flooding through some of us. We’re meant to be strong, unyielding bastions of bottomless calm, patience, and resilience. We’re meant to wait, to trust, to hold on, hold out, and be quietly, gracefully patriotic about all of it. I’m not about to do any of that.
I don’t have anything to say about Afghanistan – the politics, the finger pointing, the inevitability or the humanity of it all.
It will all get swallowed up in the next big story that comes along.
But not all of us can forget or escape this story. Some of us have been and are still living it.
I’m about to tell a truth to the ones who need to hear it. You’ll know who you are.
I know that you’re pretending it’s OK when it’s not.
I know that you’re shaking inside. Praying – again – that he’ll just come home.
I know that there will be more pieces to pick up, but that you’ll take the pieces and find the right glue.
I know that you turn away from friends who are reaching out because you can’t afford to lose it where your kids can see.
I know that you have tried to turn off the news but can’t.
I know that you are going through the motions without knowing it.
I know that’s the only way you take your next breath, and the next.
I know there’s nothing anyone can say.
I know you’re scared.
I know you’re watching him closely – looking for signs.
I know that you have questions you want to ask but can’t – or won’t.
I know that you’re holding him, without touching him, while he’s processing emotions and exorcising demons.
I know that you’re foolishly hopeful that maybe you’ll never have to send him away again.
I know you’re afraid all the times you did don’t matter anymore.
I know that you’re tired.
We’ll never know what might have been.
We’ll never know if things would have been different.
All we know is that we waited, we picked up the pieces every time, and with cuts and scrapes and deep, deep wounds, we carried them – calmly, patiently, and resiliently.
Whatever your eyes and ears are being filled with, fill your heart and soul with this:
IT WAS FOR EVERYTHING.
You didn’t come second to a cause, a duty, and a flag.
You didn’t peel your children away from him, lie to them, quell their fear and their rage for years on end.
You didn’t reinvent yourself every few years for decades.
You didn’t leave friends or miss your family.
You didn’t make Christmas magical or birthday parties that were larger than life by yourself.
You didn’t raise kids that have never NOT known war, separation, and the complicated business of reintegration.
You didn’t make the meals, hold the hands, dry the tears, and hide the fear.
You didn’t jump when the doorbell rang or beg for his life at the expense of someone else’s.
You didn’t sew together pieces shattered beyond comprehension and recognition.
You didn’t carry the fears of a country.
You didn’t give your heart away, time and time again.
You didn’t stand by while the country he loves turned on itself and made his service seem cheap.
You didn’t agree when your whole being screamed it was enough.
It wasn’t all for nothing.
This country has known war, fear, and loss for twenty years.
But it has always known freedom.
Your life, his life, and the generations that come from you – are everything.
To those who are watching, commentating, spreading opinions and making bold statements about things that can never (and should never) hope to understand, just remember we can see you, we can hear you, and we don’t need you to tell us with empty words, explanations, declarations, and assumptions what we already know you can’t comprehend.
We’re not all here to have an opinion or a perspective to argue.
We are here calmly, patiently, and resiliently waiting for you to move on and enjoy your freedom in a different conversation.
We’re here to take care of the ones who spent the last twenty years keeping us all free.
Some of us are treading the waters of doubt, worry, and questions that don’t have answers.
And some of us are still waiting.