It’s amazing how perspective can change.
As I drove home last night, I felt like things were different.
I met my cousin, Kyle, and his wife, Kayla, in Spencer on Tuesday night. I hadn’t seen them for quite some time — Christmas, I believe was the last time — so I always enjoy catching up with them.
But this meeting had a different feel to it. Like things would never be the same again.
And they won’t. In one way or another.
Both of them are in the Army. My cousin joined right after high school and has been in for the past few years. His wife recently joined as well.
But a few months ago, everything changed. He plays the trumpet and she does primarily office work.
Within a week, they will both be in Afghanistan.
“I never said I would go unless the Army forced me,” Kyle said from across the booth from me. “But here I am, volunteering to go.”
They are flying out of their base in Kansas and eventually end up in an Air Force base.
I don’t have any brothers or sisters, so my cousins have always been very close — and very special — to me. Kyle is a little younger than me, but family has always been a huge part of my life. Him and another cousin on the other side have been like brothers to me. We’ve grown up together. We’ve gotten into trouble together.
We have known for a few months he was planning on going. This was no surprise. But now that the time is here, it’s still a shock, I think even for them.
Of course, I don’t think the country is as dangerous as it once was, but they won’t be in Kansas anymore.
They will be in country for 365 days, but it sounds like they will be home for a couple weeks in the fall.
I told them to take care of themselves. But when I read about violence in Afghanistan, I won’t lie, they will be in my thoughts. With my profession, it’s not like I can avoid hearing about it.
We had talked about many memories and caught up on our two-plus hour supper. We spoke of the highs and the lows. And we talked about war. And as we departed, we shared a hug. We planned our next get-together and decided it would involve a few drinks and making a whole new set of memories.
But it wasn’t goodbye.
It was merely, “Until we meet again.”