On this day, 10 years ago, I stood in the parking lot of an Army reserve base and watched my husband leave for his deployment. I felt as if my whole world had crashed down around me, and I honestly didn't know if I would ever see him again. Not long after that I was watching the local news and found out that his unit was part of first wave of soldiers to cross the border into Iraq. And they had already lost one of their own. I remember thinking that even if Erik managed to return home to me, he would never be the same person he'd been before he left.
I am one of the lucky ones. Of course Erik was changed by his deployment, there is no way that someone wouldn't be changed by war. But when I finally saw him on the day he came home I knew he was still my Erik. He had lived in a bombed out building, he had been sick with dysentery and had lost so much weight that I barely recognized him. He had lived in a land of suffocating dust storms and unbearable heat. And he survived and overcame things that I will never know about. But he was still my Erik.
Not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I thank God every day for returning Erik home to me, relatively unscathed and well-adjusted. I know this isn't the case with everyone in his unit. I honestly don't know why we were so blessed while others have struggled...or why some have been unable to cope at all. But here we are, 10 years later, and I wake up each day next to my wonderful husband and try not to ask myself why he's here when so many didn't come home at all.
All I can do is remember those who were lost, honor those who made it home, and remind myself of how blessed I am to have my husband here with me.