I see their faces, hear their names.
I watch their families, heads held high, but eyes always filled with pain.
I see them hand that flag and every time, just for a moment, I imagine myself standing there, reaching out my hands to take it.
It’s my nightmare, the one that never goes away.
It’s the thought that keeps me awake each night you’re gone, no matter how exhausted I am.
It’s the fear that has changed me, utterly and completely.
It’s the great what-if that has become my life.
Every day another name, and to me – every one is you. Every story, every news report – it is the horror that plays over and over. Who is it today – and tomorrow, who will be next?
They speak of “heroes,” and of memories that will never die. They promise to remember always. They swear that all of these will live on in their hearts. And I think they mean it well.
But his wife – she doesn’t want a memory. She wants his arms around her, warm and strong. She wants to hear his voice, reminding her of the beauty that sometimes she can’t see. She wants his silliness, his humor, his laughter, his love. She even wants the arguments, the cranky days, and sullen silences. She wants him. She wants the father of her children to see them grow, to watch them discover and laugh and bring a joy she had never known before. She wants him. Not a memory. Not a flag. Not a name on a wall in a city.
It’s the life. It’s part of the job. It’s what we “signed up for.” So they say. It’s the part that only gets harder, never easier. Playing single parent, showing up without him to events, answering the same questions over and over – that part is easy to get used to. It becomes routine.
But death? Ambush? Slaughter in the night? How can that ever be routine? This hatred that has become the growing trend, that calls for murder and attack, that looks for blue to strike it down, viciously and without mercy – how can that become routine?
So once again I sit and wait, keeping my quiet vigil here at home; praying that the goodness of his heart and the strength of his body will overcome the evil he must face. And every night, I speak the same words within my heart.
Dear God, I don’t want a hero or a flag – I only want him.
Come home to me – my love, my friend, my husband, my wonderful man in blue… come home!