About 14 months ago I wrote about how difficult it is to say goodbye to your mother when you both realize it’s the last time you are going to see each other before deploying to war. Well, one deployment and a year later, it’s no easier.
My family came down to Palm Springs for my graduation from School. It was a great time, but it was of course bittersweet. Upon saying goodbye, my little sister said that until that point she hadn’t let herself think that it was going to be the last time she’d see me before going to Afghanistan. It’s difficult in those awkward moments with your family when they are asking you if you are scared or nervous or any one of the other million emotions you could be feeling on the verge of heading back. To be truthful, it’s a cocktail of everything. I could quite honestly put any name on the gut feeling I have sitting in my stomach. The fact is that I’m going back and that’s why I signed up in the first place, so there aren’t any complaints on my end.
I continued my little tour of farewells by heading to Washington D.C. and NYC for a few days to see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. I first flew in to DC to hang out with Dave “I dominated the Marine Corps Marathon” Folwell. After a night out on the town there we took the China Town bus up to NYC. That may have been scarier than combat. Seriously. In the city we met up with old friends from all walks. A couple of great high school friends, Eric Heil and Nathan Suh, an old Badgers teammate, Jason Pociask, and a whole crew from my dorm freshman year, Graig came out even though it meant working on his dental school patients hung over, Jaimie set up Friday night’s antics, and Stav provided a “life changing” experience around every corner. Back in DC for a final night, my dear friend Jackie and her husband Ryan drove up from Virginia for dinner and a few drinks. Dave picked Ethiopian for the cuisine, and, not to sound too insensitive, but now I know why Ethiopians are deathly thin. This stuff could be the new weight loss revolution.
Before I write anything else, I need to write about visiting Ground Zero while in New York. I really didn’t know what to expect going there. I didn’t figure to see much, and there really isn’t much to see, some signs here and there, but it’s basically just a giant chain link fence surrounding a gaping hole, a scar, in the ground. I didn’t really know what I’d feel either. I suspected a lot of sadness and anger, but really didn’t feel much of either. I think more than anything that what I felt was a combination of pride and resolve. Pride because I saw a picture of what we were rebuilding, and I heard the workers laboring to build it right back up, something of a ‘I dare you to do it again’ monument. And resolve because I realized that in two weeks I’d be in the place where it all began, fighting the people that allowed al Qaeda to cultivate the people to do it. Don’t worry New York, we’ll get ours.
In closing I wanted to thank everyone for all the support, well wishes and prayers that have poured in the past few weeks regarding the upcoming deployment. All of your kind words are taken to heart, and I wish you the best in the coming year.