I was clearing out even more little boxes that were sitting the corner of our room. These things were mostly C's and he hadn't touched them and they were beginning to drive me a little nuts. I sorted through little bits of gear that were loose pieces, thumb drives, coins, etc. and then I came to a boot box. It had been shoved in different places so often, been through so many moves, that the corners had begun to bend inward and the cardboard had become weak. It was so light that I almost discarded it without looking but as I went to pitch it I felt a slight jerk in the box. I opened it to take a very quick peak to be sure it was trash and I didn't move for a moment.
It had everything.
Every card. Every letter. Every single word that I had written him that first deployment was in that box.
Every. Single. One.
I sat on our bedroom floor, while our boys slept in their room and C was at work, and read every card, every letter, every word. And then I read them again.
They had been worn by his hands, the creases had been softened by being unfolded and refolded. Words were smudged where his tired fingers had pressed too hard after a long patrol. Tear stains remained from the tears I had shed when I wrote them. They were beautiful.
And then a pain hit my heart. I hadn't written C a single letter this last deployment. I had sent cards and I had filled the card stock side but had not sent a single, hand-written letter.
I emailed. I emailed every time I didn't talk to him that day, or just because, or to send a picture of the boys doing something funny. I emailed all the time.
We Skyped for the second half of the deployment. We Skyped nearly every day. It was instant gratification. It was amazing. It was very much a blessing.
But it didn't give him anything to physically carry. It didn't give him something to go back to. It didn't give him anything to fold and unfold. To read and reread. To carry in the breast pocket of his uniform. It didn't give him something to save in a beaten up shoe box and to hold onto until we have grown old.
He only has cards from this time. They are something but they are not the same. Those letters are absolutely priceless.
Write to your soldier, or your marine, or your airman, or your sailor. Write long, long romantic letters. Write short, sweet ones too. Write funny ones. Write your heart. Write your sadness. Write your joy. Spray them with perfume. Do it old school.
Technology is wonderful. I would never give it up. Not for anything. But I didn't realize I had given up that beauty. I didn't realize I had deprived him of that love.
There is beauty in the old ways.
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.