What surprised you this year?
A year is a long time. I could probably pick out how many things surprise me daily, everyday is surprising if you really pay attention. As I racked my brain though, for a moment that really surprised me I kept coming up with moments where I lost my “cool” and couldn’t really hold in my emotions. I won’t go into much detail as there are too many for this particular post. Some regarding my children, even some long forgotten arguments with the curly one. Still none really made me feel the way remembering a very SURPRISINGLY emotional moment I felt so far from home.
I’d been running for about 12 miles. Now yes, that’s a lot of miles but it wasn’t the distance that got the best of me. Despite the less than stellar build up I had adjusted the pace to simply complete the race and take it all in. After all I didn’t travel to the other side of the country to fail. Yet it hit me like a ton of bricks. Talk about surprise. I read the first name and along with it a picture of two beautiful children smiling on what I can only guess is their Daddy’s lap. Then another picture and another. All different ranks, and along with the names the date they bid this world good bye. I had read about the “blue mile” but nothing prepared me for the overwhelming emotion I felt. I thought of my two beautiful children and how lucky I am that they don’t have to for now live in a world with out their dad or mom.
Then like a 1-2 punch after all the names and pictures a sectioned lined completely by those “gold star” families. So yes, those left behind to suffer and endure the pain that War leaves in it’s wake. I had stopped to walk during the names. I wanted to make sure and read as many as I could. The moment after I high fived a couple of the kids I knew I couldn’t help but cry and so as they cheered for me and all the other runners I had to run. As is the case when sad about war I feel guilty for being home. Especially when I’m not where I’d like to be in life just yet.
So I ran, probably faster than I should have but then again it always feels that way in the last 10K of a marathon. I reached “the bridge”, the point of no return in the Marine Corps Marathon. It means I had to finish. Right before crossing the finish line I found my son, who my wife had made sure was there to see Daddy. I hugged and kissed him and my wife took a picture of my smiling next to Daddy.
I finally crossed the finish line, a newly minted Lieutenant placed the beautiful Eagle Globe & Anchor. It was just as sweet as the first time I earned mine. I hobbled with the rest of the runners over to the Marine Corps Memorial and I couldn’t have been prouder to be a Marine. It was not lost on me that I was extremely lucky to be walking towards my family.