What It’s Like To Love And Lose A Soldier

I do not know how to write about you in such a condensed form. I want to put it all in there – the two hour phone calls every night at 1 AM, every word, every laugh; every voicemail you left me, drunken and otherwise, that I still have on my phone; the Skype calls from Afghanistan, with blurry images and awkward smiles; the nights spent crying alone in bed.

I do not know how to write about you in a way that shows who you really were. I cannot describe how you were silly, yet serious and hardened by mere months in the Army; how you were so young, yet could talk of war and brotherhood and faith with the power and feeling of a man who has known a million years of suffering. I will never perfectly describe the freckles on your nose, the birthmark on your back, the way your voice got deeper when you tried not to cry.

I do not know how to write about how you made me feel. I cannot describe how you could make me cry when you talked about love and death and what it feels like to burn for something more, but still made me happier than anyone in the world.

I have so many questions that I will never get to ask you. Did you kill people? Did it hurt, down in your bones? Did you think of me when you went to sleep at night, your fingers smelling of burnt oil and blood and the terrible things they had done?

I wrote this so I would feel closer to you.

But I don’t want to sit here and write this anymore. I want you to come home from the war, to take me in your battered and broken arms, to let me touch the “SGT” patch above your left arm and the battle scars on your face. I want you to take me home, strip our clothes off, fuck me in the dark with the dirt from your body covering me, your body tan from the Afghan sun. I want to lay naked in your too-small bed when we’re done, your childhood GI Joes frozen in time on your bureau, the mud from your boots in a trail across the floor. I want you to rest your hand below my bottom rib like you used to, I want to smell your warm and sour breath, I want to know that I am loved by the simple movement of your eyelashes against my cheek as you sleep. I want to grow old with you, to suffer through the burden of life with you by my side, to live to see your military tattoos get faded and splotchy on your pockmarked, wrinkled skin. I want all of this and more, forever.

But if I cannot have all of this, I want you to at least come home from the war. If I cannot have your eyelashes against my cheek, if I cannot live to see your tattoos fade, come home. Please come home.

And this time, not in a box in the cruel underbelly of a plane. TC mark

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