A soldier’s final kiss goodbye
At Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, soldiers prepared to depart from their homes for a long deployment far from anywhere most had ever journeyed. The time apart might last over a year.
Wandering through the crowded families saying their farewells, I noticed so many emotions from the families who were saying goodbye to their loved ones. There was the grief of a parting loved one as they prepared for war, but there was also the pride that their family member was sacrificing themselves for a greater good.
Dealing with the departure of a family member for a long period of time is always difficult. In the National Guard, soldiers are typically home more often than most because they still live and work amongst the community, unlike the soldiers on active duty who live and work full time in the military.
Saying goodbye is never easy. Parents say it to their children, fathers to their wives, mothers to their husbands, and sometimes children to both. Part of being a soldier is knowing the day will come when you will have to tell someone goodbye. We hold this moment still and embrace the smells and feelings with the thoughts of our loved ones.
A few days before we left, a soldier convinced a girl whom he had just met to join him for dinner. The terms however were not conventional. He met her at her work and wasn’t exactly sure how to ask her out. She was beautiful, he said. He had only spoken to her for a few moments but knew he wanted to see her again. Being creative, he told her there was a report he needed to write and requested her help. After handing him a business card with a smile, he knew he might have another chance to see her. The courage he drummed up led him to invite her to dinner through an email and she agreed.
The following evening, the two met at a restaurant for what was to be a business meeting of sorts. He described the moment as breathtaking. She looked amazing, and he was nervous. The conversation started off well and quickly turned to subjects that may have had her believe that the soldier might have had ulterior motives for their meeting. As the food disappeared and the talk turned toward more serious matters, the soldier finally confessed his true intent for their meeting. He was somewhat truthful about their gathering, but secretly wanted to see her and to learn more about the girl that had grabbed his attention the day before. She was caught off guard and explained that she never would have thought that because she was told that he had a girlfriend. The soldier assured her that he was not taken and had been single for close to a year.
The awkwardness ended and the two quietly exited the restaurant. The evening’s conversation covered everything from work and housing to relationships and family. The prior nervousness returned as he offered to walk her to her car. As he stood close to her by her car, he knew he didn’t want to part ways. He knew he would be leaving in two days. The moment was approaching when he would have to say goodbye. Standing taller than she, he stepped closer and caught her eyes under the dimly lit street lamp. He asked her something about her weekend and before she could finish her sentence he reached in and gently kissed her. The moment stood still as the two shared a passionate kiss.
What could have been just an awkward kiss goodnight turned into multiple smooches. Her eyes closed as their lips met. They were enjoying the moment they were spending together. He knew that he was on borrowed time. After their final kiss they spoke about seeing each other again before he left, but he knew that their schedules conflicted. They hoped for the best.
They kissed one last time, a long and passionate kiss, one that would need to be revisited in the distant future. Next time he said he’d have no reason to exaggerate the truth to see her again.
This was a soldier’s final kiss before he would leave for war.