"If you're reading this ..."
I slowly tightened my grip over his hand.
"If you're reading this / my momma’s sitting there ... "
Without any movement of his face, no other acknowledgment, he squeezed the fingers that had fallen between his.
"If you're reading this / If you're reading this ..."
I stopped breathing.
"I'm already home."
One tear. No words. Our grips loosened and I rubbed the top of his hand with my thumb until it passed.
Eleven months. I got through eleven months without hearing that song. Not once.
I have heard it twice in the last twenty-four hours. I felt so horribly confused by my reaction. He's home. I was holding his hand while he was beside me. He was in my car driving down a paved interstate without checkpoints or need of a caravan or escort. Without men around him. Without armor on his chest, without a helmet on his head, without a gun at his side. Perfectly safe, one hand on the wheel, one hand under mine, while our little boys slept in their car seats. And that song hit me like he was over six-thousand miles away in the worst of circumstances.
My heart broke for the families that are on so many of our hearts and minds and in our prayers. I was so very grateful that I was holding C's hand. So very, very thankful that he is home. There was guilt in the same moment. I will never be able to adequately explain that - never - but I think every army wife understands it. In the same breath that we thank God our soldier is unharmed we will feel unexplainable guilt for the very same thought. We know that someone else just lost their life. Someone else would have to mourn. Someone else would fall to their knees.
I felt dread. I know he will go back. I know we have to live this again. I know the fear will be mine to carry. It seems so far away but then it seems all too close.
There are no pauses in this life.
To say we are a family - a community - does not come close. We are all connected. We are all mourning. We are all hurting. We have all been brought to our knees. We have all prayed harder, held our loved ones closer, said that one more “I love you.”
There isn't a separation. This does not go away when our own soldier is out of harm's way. We are still army wives and husbands and mothers and fathers. We all share in this.
The sorrow dwells in all of us.
For all those who give of themselves so that we might live freely, for all those who selflessly stand up and say "I will" while so many around them won't, for all those who enter into the battle, Lord, strengthen their bodies, guide their hearts, and bring them home safely.
For all those who fall and then rise, for all of those who humbly sacrifice their Earthly life to sustain ours, for all those who have shown the greatest of love, Lord, welcome them into Your Kingdom with greatest haste and abounding joy.
For all those who mourn them, for all those who fall to their knees from the weight of despair, for all those who loved them, Lord, blanket them in grace, comfort them, guide them, and cradle them in the palm of your hand.
For all of our fallen, for their comrades, for their families, we pray.
Lyrics: Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This"