It’s a difficult thing to consider; the loss of a family after a divorce. The familial structure a man has been a part of for 22 years before it broke apart. You miss living with your children, not seeing them at breakfast before school, nor after work, and missing out on carrying their limp little bodies to bed after they’d fallen asleep in your lap. Knowing you won’t be there when they fall playing outside in the snow, and when they come home from school or cross country after besting their record time with a huge smile on their faces. And you aren’t there at dinner, when everyone prays aloud, then asking each other what the best part of their day was. You think of those things as you sit at a table with a bunch of empty chairs, it’s quiet and lonely.
When I got up this morning I looked out across the fresh snow in my yard and I didn’t see my nation’s Colors furling in the wind. I tried to picture standing in my old house while my children slept in their beds, looking out the front window at the garden wherein lies the flag pole I erected in the memory of my father and all those who’ve paid the definitive sacrifice. When I reflect on my own service, I remember thinking of my niece, my family, my wife, asleep in their beds back home as I cleared bunkers and shelled out buildings in South West Asia, I’d picture them dreaming good dreams as I clutched my rifle, praying that I would return home and could join them, hold my niece, and lie with my sleeping wife. It’s a difficult thing to consider today, how many times I prayed I would return home, not to leave again, to be safe.
My heart aches for those whom didn’t get to come home to the arms of their loved ones. I feel for those left at home alone when their loved ones did not return. Today I stand here looking at an empty yard, my children someplace different, my wife no longer mine to hold. My world has changed and I will change with it, I will adapt and overcome. I will move on as I should, there will be more days spent with my children. But today is a day to reflect, and reflect I will. I will be sad. I will be hurt. I will remember and I will be proud.