I’ve spent years telling myself that my children don’t ‘belong’ to me; that since the death of his younger brother and mother I’ve been charged with raising him, loving him, preparing him for the day he will leave me. In that time I’ve tried to set examples, show him humility, humbleness, and direction and I know in my heart that sometimes I’ve been lazy with this, knowing from birth it takes years to lose a child to the world. Then one day it’s done. Next month my son will lead a medical team on his second duty into Afghanistan, and the Helmand province.
Ten months he’ll be gone. I’ll be left here to pray for him, ten months in which I will be hoping he’s beyond harm. He just turned thirty-five years of age, but in truth I’ve only just let go of his hand, only just stopped the stern words about his school reports, only just explained what took me away all those times, when true courage would have been to stay home and love him. In ten months he will learn what fear can do to a man, what doubt can do for self-confidence. In less than a week I will shake his hand, hug him close, kiss him and weep for my son. I will be left to trust in him. To feel proud of the man I raised, a man who goes his own way in the world, the kind of man I always wanted to be.