I’ve watched you shave a dozen times in that mirror, peel away the charcoal dusting on your chin and cheeks, your hand steady under the rapid buzzing hum. I know I do not understand the honor sweeping in the stitch of your uniform, the memory of dry desert dust in the grooves on the bottom of your boots. I’ve listened to your stories of the Middle East. I hear how the deep pitch in your voice once tuned the ears of 200 soldiers under your command. I remember when you gave your bronze star to little Sam, how he beamed at meeting a real soldier, and how you were moved to silence when you heard he had passed from his cancer.
I do not understand your inner conflicts pressed in the seams of your collar. I do not always understand your pride, or your subtle shift in demeanor when you wear your uniform. But I do understand your commitment to service, your enduring strength.
I watch the mail daily, scan the bold blue letters tucked in the corner. I didn’t know you knew I was watching, counting each day grace. You say, “it will come certified.” But as the anxious world stirs around us, I get the sense we’re on borrowed time.