My dearest love,
I can’t even put into words how much we miss you. Each day passes by as if the clock on the wall has come to a grinding halt. Horrible as that is, the nights are even worse. I toss and turn for what feels like an eternity. It’s just not right without you by my side. I hold your pillow tightly because there remains a faint scent of the aftershave you use. I cry because that smell is fading all too quickly. I know it sounds stupid, but it’s the only tangible thing in this house that makes me feel as if you’re here.
Sometimes I scream out your name and complain that life isn’t fair. I try not to, but I yell at God because of the pain I feel inside. Even though I do it, I know it’s not right. I just can’t help it. I’m tired of crying all day when I think about you. I’m tired of sobbing at night before I lay down in another useless attempt to sleep. I just want this pain and loneliness to go away and never return. Is that too much to ask for?
I know you told me not to, but I watched the news again last night. I was hoping they might show your face, or at least mention your name, but they never did. It’s as if the world doesn’t care what is happening over there. Sometimes I feel like no one truly appreciates the sacrifices that are being made so we can continue to enjoy freedom. I get so tired of hearing “Thank you for your service” or “Thank you for your sacrifice”. I know some mean it, but the majority feel like they have to say it. How can they possibly know what I’m going through if they haven’t been there themselves?
I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention for this letter to turn into a sob story of everything I’m going through. It’s not like you don’t already know all of this.
Jimmy took his first steps today. It was so amazing. Oh, how I wish you could have seen that. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. I got it all on video, so I can embarrass him when he’s a teenager. He’s such an amazing kid. I can already tell he’s going to be like you. Tender heart. Glowing smile. Never quit attitude. He’s so strong for such a little thing. Sometimes I wonder if he will follow in your footsteps. Part of me hopes not, but another part would be so proud. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than having a son who wants to be just like his father.
Your mom called today. It’s still difficult to talk with her. She bought some maternity clothes for me, and some more stuff to put in the nursery. It nearly kills me to know that you won’t be here for the birth of our daughter. I know we discussed the things we might have to sacrifice when you enlisted. I guess deep down inside, I just never thought we would actually have to endure them. Sometimes I wish things were so different, but yet I know that everything you’ve done over there matters.
I will end this now before I get more tears on the paper. I was going to rewrite everything on a clean sheet, but I changed my mind. I want you to know how much you are loved and missed. These tears come from a place so deep in my heart where you will always be. Yes, sometimes it’s a dark place filled with more pain than I can imagine, but most times, it’s beautiful because of who you are.
Never forget, I will always love you. Thank you for being the hero you are and an example of a good person that our children can follow after.
I love you,
Standing in the crisp, fall air, she folds the letter and returns it to the envelope that was never mailed. Tears stream down her face as she stares at his grave. The headstone stands out like a white pillar against the backdrop of bright red and yellow leaves scattered across the ground. A stirring breeze tickles her skin, and she smiles even through her tears. She can feel his presence in the wind, and it warms her heart.
She looks around at hundreds of similar headstones and shakes her head. So many who paid freedom’s ultimate sacrifice lay beneath the carpet of brown earth. Mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons. The fallen warriors who willingly gave up their own freedom to fight for strangers.
Once a week, she walks into Arlington National Cemetery and reads the letter aloud. It was the last one she penned to her husband who was serving in Iraq. As a family, they gave up so many hopes and dreams in order for her husband to serve. While it was never easy, they both believed in the higher purpose, the bigger picture of what it meant to fight for something. He missed his son’s first steps and the birth of their precious daughter, but she knew he was smiling down on them from Heaven.
Footsteps approach and she turns as five year old Jimmy walks up behind her. She wipes her tears and smiles. Over the years, she’s learned how to put on a brave front for her little boy. He holds a small American flag in his tiny hand. She nods, and he walks over, placing the flag in the ground next to his father’s headstone. He reaches out and hugs the white monument that represents his daddy.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through anything close to what I’ve just written. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who are currently serving or have served in the military and their families. The sacrifice of so many soldiers echoes throughout history, and is carried on today by those who hold up the red, white, and blue and say no one is going to take this away.
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Have a blessed day,