I remember the night we took this picture. It was sometime in late fall of 2004 and I picked up some KFC for supper, and just for the heck of it, I pulled out the camera and snapped some shots of everybody.
My stepson Mark (he's the cute kid sitting next to my daughter who is sticking her tongue out) asked me, "Why are you taking pictures? Nothing special is going on." To which I replied, "Exactly, that's why I'm taking pictures." I mean, there wasn't any particular reason to be taking pictures except maybe that disposable camera had been sitting on top of the TV for half a year and I was curious to see what I had taken pictures of, so I was gonna finish up the film and take it in to Walgreens.
But this morning when I was straightening up the house I happened upon this picture, it suddenly took on a new meaning for me. There's my incredibly handsome -- then 17-year-old -- stepson, sitting in the front room with his brother and stepsister enjoying original recipe chicken and mashed potatoes. Nothing special. He's probably thinking about how he's going to convince his dad and me to let him go out with his friends for a couple of hours; we're gonna tell him we really don't think it's wise on a school night and he's always gone anyway and why doesn't he just stay put for one night and hang with the family. Then he's going to complain we're too strict and that he stayed home a couple of nights ago and maybe he'll stay home tomorrow and c'mon, it's just for a couple of hours he'll be home by ten.
Four years after this picture was taken, he was in Al Asad, Iraq. It was his second tour of duty then. He told his dad, mom, and me that he was going to what they called Camp Cupcake which was suppose to reassure us that he was going to be safe, which he probably was while he was on the base. The year before he was on his first tour of Iraq. He told us he was going to be guarding a water tank -- and it turned out to be a lie; he was the guy in back of the machine gun on top of a hummer guarding a convoy. This time around he was the one inside the Humvee driving.
Six years after this picture was taken, he was on his very first tour of Afghanistan, the Helmund Province which he told us was actually quite beautiful, and was -- what we later learned from watching Fox News -- incredibly dangerous. Seven years after this photo, he's back on US soil, grateful to be alive, and married. Yeah, my stepson got married this year to an incredible woman, Melissa, and we sure love her. His dad and I are so thankful for his life, grateful that it didn't end on foreign shores as so many of his friends did, and tonight we'll say a prayer thanking God, but also offering up prayers for other families whose son's and daughter's are on other shores, serving their country.
So this picture is just a snapshot of a "nothing special" night in late fall of 2004 -- a another boring night where nothing special was going on. I'm glad I got a picture of it.
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