Ex-Husbands: 10 Years in a Box. The Soldier Who Chose Honor Over Family

When I open this box I remember a story. It goes like this..

Once upon a time,

There was a boy and a girl who fell in love. Puppy love, some said. The girl couldn’t be talked out of the boy with the bluest eyes. And the boy couldn’t be talked out of the girl with the curly hair. They were on two paths that began very different from one  another, but once, a long time ago, they crossed.

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While school nearly drove them apart, the miles wouldn’t last forever.

What school hadn’t separated, the Army couldn’t either. Soon they found their way back to each other after a space apart a country wide, filled only with letters, hopes, plans. And more miles.   20140312-105921.jpg

Upon his return, they were finally joined. The same last name to start them out. A modest day. The dress, the friends. Not all came to see them off. Those who did, meant every word. Too young to even toast her guests, this boy and girl were on their way.     20140312-105933.jpg

All the firsts across the miles, no family near this boy and girl. First home, first loss, then came first son. A first attempt to show the world. Puppy love was real. They worked hard to make a first life. He trained, She nested. He swore, She hollered. He provided, She beamed with pride. They learned. They grew up. Together, about honor, code, and family.

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This boy and girl made the most of miles and chance, and the importance of turning friends to family. Everyone there was one, because that’s what you were told to be. It could save your life one day. And that turned out, to be the truest truth. A bond like no other family this boy and girl had ever known. Tough to watch each go when miles sent them on.

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As they stayed, life showed them more. While a second son was on the way, his service was almost up. Miles would soon lead them back to home. The place they thought they should return, as duty was drawing to a close. Preparations made to let the miles take them back, and to take them forward together. The years had taught them more than they imagined they could. Puppy love had grown. Parents now, children then. The time had taught them they could be alone, together, miles from home, and create a life built on honor, code and family.  20140312-110132.jpg

And then one day, the towers fell. It changed the world. It changed theirs too. An order to deploy was heard. The move back home was not to be. The Army still had this boy’s word, and the girl knew what that would mean. This is what happened next.

As a boy who time had changed, got called one morning to report to the top. A question for this Soldier boy. The girl feared what she would hear when the boy got home that day. They guessed and planned to be apart. Miles and chance would win this time. But when the boy returned that night, to his little son with the bluest eyes, to the girl with the round tummy, and to his tiny son inside, he told them this:

When asked to close the door he knew. Looking down at the numbers on the pages at the desk, he braced himself. A head count for the coming operation. He saluted and stood tall, as always. The boy was asked a question that would change his life. And it ended up changing everything. When given the chance to stay or go, shocked by the offering, he never hesitated. In that moment he saw that girl with the curls, the face of a son with the bluest eyes, and the face of a son he hadn’t yet met. He replied quickly. Sir, I’ll go. This is what I signed up for. I’m ready.

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And with those words he was sent on his way. Not to go, but to stay. To let the miles take them home. He had answered with courage and with honor, though he wouldn’t know then just how much that answer would change everything. You see, a hero isn’t just a hero for going to war. A hero is a boy willing to be a man.

Along those miles they made it home. All those firsts now brought them back. A second son, a second home. A second chance. A life that was hard, a life that was good. Two sons who would get to know their dad, a boy who was now a man. A lot of loss and a lot of pain, spared by one courageous answer, but there was to be so much more that they couldn’t. Their love was not to be. Real love it was, but no longer children. A man now, and no longer a girl. With time and miles, eventually came change. Time won and their love turned to friendship. They had learned once from across the miles, while all alone with just each other, that friends will always be family. That friendship can save your life. It has. And that boy will always be a hero to this girl. 20140312-110122.jpg

Thank you Paul. I will never forget that you answered that question like a hero. It changed my life in so many ways. Now it’s my turn to honor you. To honor our friendship that began as just a boy and just a girl, with miles to go.

To let others know its ok not to keep first loves tucked away in a box, I carry our ten years in my heart. Your choice helped me grow up.  It changed everything. It saved me. I wouldn’t have any of the love I have today, without that answer. Including our friendship. Thank you for teaching me what it means to show real honor. You chose well.

To me, you’re a hero.

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