To You Who Took His Place,
It's a lazy day this Memorial Day. A Monday-that-feels-like-a-Sunday. It's warm. There's a breeze. Got a free pancake breakfast because Ryan is a veteran & we saw a parade this morning that honored you. One baby is sleeping. One is playing outside. He loves baseball like Ryan does & he's got a couple big plastic toddler bats. My husband is napping, he did some serious home renovation & worked up a sweat, he's so sexy when he's doing hard work. I like to think I've taught him all he knows of home reno via my HGTV marathons. (He is welcome!)
When we met, Ryan in some ways, tried to ease me into his accounts at war. And in others, felt it was best to lay it all out on the table for me to accept...or not. I did. And in the months after, I slowly learned of the missions he went on. The times he was outnumbered 10:1, 20:1. The times he went out and knew he wasn't coming home. The mornings he woke up, knowing it was likely his last. He was a single man, no kids. Went out no effs given as a true Marine, he chuckles as he tells me that I just wouldn't understand why he chuckled, or that I don't really know what Semper Fi means just because I google translate like a boss. But there were, he tells me quite a few missions that he was set for and then for reasons unknown at the time, was reassigned. And you took his place, his exact position. And you died. In his place.
I don't try to make sense of this ever, I know war is senseless and to try wouldn't do good anywhere.
I'll never get to hold the faces of your wives in my hands and weep from the depths of my soul for an exchange no words could do justice.
I'll never see how your mothers have aged 20 years in the past 2, wishing they could've traded places with you.
I'll never meet your dads and hear how he used to crack the best jokes, but keeps pretty quiet these days.
I'll never have my heart wrenched of all its capacity to hear your children's grief for a father's guidance which is only remedied with memories.
I'll never shake paws with the dogs you loved so well before you left.
I'll never bump into your best friends who have your voicemails from bachelor parties gone by saved, and won't get new phones because of them.
I'll never know the strength it took for them all to stand on wobbly legs and watch your adorned caskets be lowered & feel themselves sinking too, into grief too deep to move.
Nothing seems to fit the bill of gratitude for your sacrifice which I know my husband would've preferred to make at the time. There's not a "Thank You" card for this, not a floral arrangement I could send, I don't hold any high rankings anywhere to make my thanks more important & respected. I'm just an every day wife with a husband who puts his socks outside the laundry hamper and kids who love bubbles & hate naps-much like the very people I suspect you signed up to protect knowing what could be.
You literally gave up your lives, so that I could have mine. And the best I can do is let you know that I am, from every fiber of depth in me, thankful. That each day since I've known of you, I've been thankful. Not just on a holiday. That you're all carried with me in some way, forever woven into my happy family on lazy Sun-Mondays and on the couches where all of the House Hunters are pro and con listed by us, in all of the joy of a burned up dinner my husband eats with kids crying, because his measure for what a bad day looks like far exceeds mine. You're with us, you're appreciated, and you're remembered; and it's an honor to do so.
With All of My Gratitude & Respect,
Mrs. Ryan Karbon