The three most beautiful words a person in Afghanistan can hear when her base is under attack are “I’ve got you,” said strongly by a Marine with gun drawn at the door to your bunker. That’s what my sister told me last week when she got back from a couple months’ work in Kabul. This is Connie, standing with my sweet father and me in the cemetery where our ancestors are buried in Berwick, Pennsylvania. We went there to listen to our father tell stories. We went there to give thanks for the strong stock we come from, for their courage and dedication and love.
Over a turkey prepared as only our loving sister Deirdre can do, so moist and flavorful it must be bad for us, Connie told us about riding in gunner trucks, where the driver would turn around and say to her in the back seat, “Should we come under attack, we will defend you. And should we be killed, please press this button.” Silence. We looked at each other around the table. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but Connie’s beautiful face, and how grateful I was to be able to see it again.
She felt peaceful there, she said, trusting that she would come back safely to her husband, who cares for her as well as any husband has ever cared for a wife. I loved looking at them, watching the easy way they are together, the comfortable way they seem to be in their own skin. She pours him a glass of milk to go with his Oreos. He rinses and does the dishes so quietly the rest of us don’t notice until we get up to start the job and realize it’s already done.
With a husband like Jeff, I’m quite sure she’ll never need me – but if she ever did – I want to be able to say to her with complete confidence and calm, “I’ve got you.” I’ve got you, Connie. If your beautiful and blessed life should ever need me, I’m here. My home, my heart, all that I am I pledge to your well being. I feel more renewed after a few days of watching how you live than any time at a spa could ever leave me.
Oh, and by the way, happy birthday on this beautiful first of December.