I am so very proud to introduce her to you. I am so very happy that she took the time to write for you all. Please offer her your support. Thank you, Amy!!
To Love a Marine
There are many moments that stand out over the past two and half years… Each one has brought about a life lesson. Some readily seen and appreciated, others a long time coming. All a special part of the journey, a key to understanding this life, another step away from the person I was and towards the person I am becoming.
His graduation from boot camp.
The last hug before he left for Afghanistan.
The post about his close call.
The first time I met a Purple Heart recipient.
Standing in Arlington National Cemetery as Taps were played for his friend.
The joy of welcoming him home.
The sorrow for the 15 families whose arms were empty.
Starting the deployment journey all over again.
As I thought about trying to put into words what it means to love my Marine, there was one moment that kept coming to the forefront. The moment I realized the extent to which my life had been transformed by my brother’s military service. The moment I understood the blessings of this life.
It was a Friday morning in April. The grass was green, the trees were in bloom, and true to form and legend, love was in the air.
“I’m so glad you got your TV to work!”
“I got up at 5:30 this morning to watch the coverage.”
“Her dress is beautiful!”
“How long before the kiss?”
I was standing in my classroom, fighting back the tears, while several of my colleagues sat watching news coverage of the royal wedding and anxiously awaiting “the kiss.” As I stood there staring at the cinderblock walls, my heart was breaking. Several miles away, in a house I’d never seen, filled with people I’d never met, was a family overcome with love. Love for a son and a brother, a friend and Marine. Love for a hero in a flag-draped coffin.
As I turned and glanced at the TV and saw the thousands upon thousands lining the streets, I felt a sense of frustration over the fact that a true hero’s family would be without the fanfare and support they deserved. To my friends, he was just another Marine who had died in a far off land.
I’m not implying that my friends are somehow cruel or uncaring. On the contrary, they are overwhelmingly supportive of my family. But when you love someone in the military, it’s your life that is changed. When your loved one goes for months without showering, is fired upon, can’t take a single step without wondering, and has friends wounded or killed, your outlook is different. Royal weddings, traffic jams, a last minute project, a spilled cup of coffee, all take on a less important flavor. You have a greater sense of perspective, of time, of significance, because you realize that one phone call, one knock at the door, could alter your life completely.
So as I stood there, I couldn’t be mad at my friends. For a brief instant, I envied them - to be able to go back to my carefree life where a wedding rather than a funeral was the focus of the day. But it was only a moment - my life is much fuller now for having loved a Marine.
I have an appreciation for freedom and sacrifice that only comes from having known those who defend it. Marking a day on a calendar when you know you may be saying goodbye for an earthly lifetime means you leave nothing unsaid. Each conversation is precious. Each moment, treasured. How can I possibly go back to a time when I could not comprehend this? When I did not appreciate this?
And so, I wiped my tears. I took a deep breath. I told the story of the fallen Marine. I wrote the words “Thank you” on a sign. I held a flag. I stood with a handful of others who understood and lined the doorway to a funeral home. I prayed for the men and women serving half a world away and the families holding their breath until they return, for warriors recovering from wounds, for those who have gone before and those who walk with me now.
What does it mean to love a Marine? It means I don’t just live this life, I embrace it. For no matter how long the nights, how difficult the days, to love a Marine, to find a sense of family and friendship among those you’ve never met, to value life, to treasure moments, to know the price of freedom, to witness honor, courage, and commitment, to live each day to the fullest, to get it, is a blessing.
When night is at it’s darkest, fear is at it’s strongest, and faith is the only thing holding you together, this life is a blessing.
When the only certainty is that He will be there with you no matter what and Grace will carry you through, this life is a blessing.
So embrace it. Cling to Him. Appreciate each moment. Look for lessons. Educate others.
To love someone who serves is a blessing.