To my favorite soldier…

To my favorite soldier…

Do you ever look at pictures of us and think–why do we ever fight? Because I do. 

A man in uniform. Hot. A uniform crumpled on the floor. Hotter. A cocoon of safe arms. Warm. 

Don’t get up. Don’t go. 

________________________

It must be the Army in his veins. I’m not usually awake at 5:15am these days. I had never been a lucid audience watching Keith when his alarm goes off. It gave a new meaning to UP AND AT ‘EM. 

I think my dad would’ve liked to see me move this way when he would clap his hands in my room late on Saturday morning, “UP AND AT ‘EM!” <CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP> I am no soldier. “Mo-ommmmm! Tell him not to do that. And why does he always call me Adam?!”

I was playing 2048 on my phone when his alarm went off. Keith JUMPS out of the bed, and I think he must land in his pants, socks, boots. He would have an amazing transition time in a triathlon.

He is quiet and quick and I don’t know what all he did in the dark. I blink twice trying to see him; I can’t figure out where he went. I feel the wind of the fan being blocked, and I sense he is kneeling by my side of the bed. 

“Bye baby. Have a good day.” Smooch, smooch. 

I look at my phone time,”It’s only 5:23am.” He has to be there at 6:30am. 

“I know.” I was thinking he must’ve forgotten to switch his watch back an hour last time we did that.

“Do you always get dressed that fast?”

“Yeah.” And I feel the fan again. 

I know he likes to leave about an hour before he has to be somewhere, but I didn’t know he greeted the morning with such vigor and sense of purpose. It was inspiring. He was completely ready and out the door before most people would have had the time to hit snooze once. 

I slipped back into sleep. When my alarm sounded…well. Let’s just say my soldier mechanic probably wouldn’t have been impressed…
_____________________________

Who will protect us if the US gets attacked? Who will lay his life down to do anything to protect our family if someone broke into our house? What is the face of our nation’s defense?

My love…up before the sun on a Sunday, out the door within minutes, never a hesitation, never a complaint.

Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.

_________________________

Do you feel the sun beat on your neck, inhale some dust, and wonder if we miss you? 

Don’t remember my daggers. Please forget them. Forgive them. Think of me when I’ve been a cold drink for you, ice clanking to your lip when you don’t want anything to eat, only a drink. Only cold tea down a dry throat. Only me. 

We do miss you. In a messy house, clock ticking, exhausted pile of arms and pjs and ponytails, under a lonely blanket on a creaky couch, we do. 

__________________

Your flaws are not flaws to me. I watch you when you don’t know. 

Did I forget to hug you today? Did I forget to hold on? Did I forget to thank you?

I know I probably did. 

Leave your guns on the shelf. Stare into my eyes. Search them. See me. I will hold your face. I will slide my fingers over your warm sandpaper jaw. Let me see you. Come back to bed. Dim the lights and remember me when I was beautiful. It’s okay. Closer. It’s me. Soften. Find us. 

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Tell my Father

Tell my Father

I hold our sleeping daughter in the dim auditorium. I gently trace her perfect little face with a fingertip–over the curve of her forehead, off the tip of her tiny nose. Touch her quivery lips. Lift her up to kiss her soft cheeks. Breathe in her sweet scent. 

It’s been a long week. 

I miss you. I think about you in the field, in the rain, firing your howitzers. Drilling from 4am til 9 or 10pm…then up again. I don’t really know what you do there. Do they have tents and beds? I miss you and I miss you. 

And as I listen to the slow powerful harmony of the junior high Concert Men choir, and feel every word of this song, I can’t hold it together. I just can’t. And I don’t even try to…

Tell My Father

Tell my father that his son
Didn’t run, or surrender
That I bore his name with pride
As I tried to remember

You are judged by what you do
While passing through
As I rest ‘neath fields of green
Let him lean on my shoulder

Tell him how I spent my youth
So the truth could grow older
Tell my father when you can
I was a man

(Verse) (Repeat)

Tell him we will meet again
Where the angels learn to fly
Tell him we will meet as men
For with honor did I die

Tell him how I wore the Blue
Proud and true through the fire
Tell my father so he’ll know
I love him so

(Chorus)

Tell him how we wore the blue
Proud and true like he taught us
Tell my father not to cry
Then say goodbye

Huh? Come on over. 

Huh? Come on over. 

I had my daughters put their hands behind their backs. I put duct tape around their wrists. I put them in my trunk one at a time. 

It was a drill. We have spent hours having real talk about bad possibilities. We have spent hours on family drills. I don’t mince words. I don’t joke. I hope to God they never, never, never have to use any of these skills I made them learn. 

They all know how to get their tied hands under their rears and back in front. They know how to get duct tape off their wrists with their teeth, how to SCREAMMMM, how to pull the emergency lever in a trunk, how to kick out tail lights and put their hand out if there’s not a lever. I explained that jumping from a moving vehicle was better than trusting you will be rescued.

You don’t have to agree with my methods. These aren’t your kids. 

All my girls can shoot a gun. We keep loaded guns in the house. From my personal experience and conversations with people, that’s only scary to people who have little to no knowledge about guns.

I don’t really think of it any differently than a drawer full of cooking knives. What if I dropped a knife…it got stuck securely between some crap…pointed straight up…and then I tripped and fell on it? If you know anything about gun safety, this knife series of anomalies is about as likely as a gun accident.

Gas ovens require safety knowledge. Medicine and cleaners require safety knowledge. We have bottles of Tylenol…take the whole bottle, accidentally or on purpose, and that’ll “be your last headache.” (Katt Williams)

I do forget that not everyone is a redneck assassin…   

 

To indecisive intruders–

Keith is a weapons expert, and if he doesn’t get to a weapon in time, he’s pretty strong and skilled at hand-to-hand combat too. If any altercation goes down at this house–I got my money on Keith.  He locks our door for your protection, not ours. Stay out. Or…shrug, come on over. 

You don’t know where our guns are. We do.

There are too many things to be afraid of. Maybe it’s not healthy that I’m not fearful, but I prefer to learn and read and pray. 

On that note, I think I’ll crank up “Blaze of Glory” by Bon Jovi.