In the past few days, I have spoken with fathers and the mothers destroyed by this war.
Their children came home in flag-draped coffins that photographers are not allowed to shoot.
I had breakfast with one of them this morning. Jeff Brunson copes as best he can but you can see the sorrow in his eyes. Gus is always in his heart.
Gus died with three other 48th Infantry Brigade soldiers the day before I landed in Baghdad in 2005. Jeff and I have known each other for a while. I’ve written a couple of stories about him. He invited me to go with him and his wife to see a fallen soldiers portraits exhibition in September. It was difficult enough for me to watch him as he came upon his son’s likeness. I can’t imagine how he felt that day.
We talked about that this morning at an IHop in Lawrenceville. Jeff bit into his country omelette and aired a truth that cannot be disputed: I can never know the loss of losing a child. I don’t have any children. But if there is such a thing as coming close, I am in that uncomfortable space.
I am sure I will see the faces of the dead tonight as I fall asleep. Next week, my feet will touch that bloody sand again.