A long time ago, a lifetime ago it seems, I dated a boy.
We were in love the way only the very young, very stupid, and never heartbroken can be.
Fast forward several years and he and I had gone our separate ways. He left college, went to work at a local store, and joined the National Guard.
I had cried my tears, done some partying, and moved forward. The mister and I were dating. I was preparing for law school.
And the ex called. We met for pizza.
His National Guard unit had been called up and he was shipping out to Iraq.
And my heart seized. While I didn’t know the young man sitting across the table from me, with his crew cut and terrified eyes, I remembered the boy he’d been, brash and exuberant and funny. And the thought of that boy being handed a gun and sent to the desert nearly shattered me. I cannot even imagine the terror his family and his girlfriend were dealing with.
He came home safe. I haven’t talked to him since the day he said he was shipping out, but my father, through some quirk of fate, spoke to his mother for an unrelated work issue and found out that he had come home safe. And, though I had not realized I was doing it, I stopped listening to the reports of injured, wounded, or killed soldiers and praying I didn’t hear his name.
It has been years since he came home, but the war is still going on. Other people’s sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends, lovers, and exboyfriends are there. Other people are listening to news reports and holding their breath, hoping no familiar names are called.
I thank the soldiers and their loved ones for their sacrifices.