During my senior year in high school, I met a guy who was my brother, soulmate, and ultimate guy rolled into one. Since we were both in our school’s peer counseling group, we got to see each other regularly and bonded at retreats through realizing we were verbalizing each other’s thoughts. I adored him and was so flattered he held me in such a high regard, too.
After graduating, I moved away to college. My buddy and I kept in touch. I distinctly remember him coming to visit me immediately after a tough breakup of mine, and we shared about grand ideas and plans. I was in awe at how passionate and cool he was, combined with the fact that he was so good to me and such a solid person in my life.
My friend ended up joining the military. I was surprised, mostly because it didn’t fit in my version of what his life would look like. I envisioned him starting his own companies, being a creative force, collaborating with people, and being someone I wanted to work with and be. I understood his choice, but was confused as his tone conveyed a mixed set of emotions when he told me. I appreciated him taking action in his life and being responsible, but felt disconnected from his decision and new path. When we would catch up on the phone during his first couple of years in the military, I was disappointed he wasn’t happier or doing something more energizing to him. I shared about all I was up to and he sounded more upbeat to hear about my life. I was concerned for him but didn’t know what to do. Eventually I made my peace with it as I realized the way I envision things to be is not the only way and because I wanted to be supportive, but I have always wondered how satisfied he is with his path.
We haven’t been great at updating each other recently, but he was such a big influence on me I still consider him a part of my life and think of him regularly. A couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from him, and even more so when he emailed me this:
I just wanted to tell you that it means so much to me that you are doin your thing and makin stuff happen. Sometimes I get discouraged about my career choice. I wish I would have taken a shot at makin something else happen. In the military its easy to forget why we do what we do and who the people we serve are. Even though we don’t talk often, knowing that you are still grindin out makes me feel at peace with what I do. Does that make sense? I got you and another bud that I use to remind me that we serve so that you guys can do your thing. It is what keeps me goin. I just wanted you to know how much you mean to me. Thank you.
Tears streamed down my face as I read this, then reread it, and each time I go back to it since he sent it.
No matter what your thoughts are on the military or the war or the U.S., the people in our military sacrifice a lot from their lives so the rest of us here can be shielded from that type of sacrifice directly in our lives. I don’t always think about it, but I get to lead a life I choose because him and others serve to protect it. I should be thanking him every day.
Here’s one for today, and from the bottom of my heart for each day: Thank you.
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