Today I kissed my love goodbye.
“Don’t forget your dinner!” “Do you have your gun and shield?” “Come home safe!”
I kissed my love goodbye – and watched him walk away.
All these years of practicing this same routine and it somehow has gotten harder instead of easier. That voice inside me wondering – was that the last time?
Was that the last time I’ll feel your lips pressed against mine and feel the strong, firm touch of your hands around me?
Was that the last time your children will yell “Bye, Dad! See you when you get here!” and wait for your return with their faces pressed against the window?
Will you be that faceless man who is called a hero for a week, and then slips from memory? Will I be that wife who is handed a folded flag, sobbing eyes hidden behind dark glasses, a chilling picture of both strength and heartbreak, whose children cling to her as their father is carried away?
I have seen that wife too many times in recent months. Each time it is the same.
They call her husband a hero – but then they easily forget his sacrifice- and hers. While he is alive, they taunt him, doubt him, curse him – and then when he dies, they give speeches and try to honor his name.
This wife doesn’t want a dead hero. She wants the laughter and love of the man beside her. She wants the man who has seen inside her heart – and stayed to love her. She wants the man who catches her eye across a roomful of noisy little ones and laughingly yells, “Hey, let’s take our coffee outside and call it a date!!” She wants that man, not a hero in the ground.
The days go by so quickly, but the nights are long. Those hours alone in the quiet darkness are a blessing and a curse, part of the endless push and pull of this life.
Today I kissed my love goodbye and while my lips spoke all the same mundane words, my heart called out: “Please don’t go. Today, don’t go. Stay here where you are safe, where you are loved.”
But I don’t say that.
I say: “Have a good night! Don’t forget your dinner! Come home safe!”
And then I kiss my love goodbye – and watch him walk away.