"Going out or coming home?"
The question was directed to the man in green fatigues in front of me.
"Going home," he replied. He had just been discharged today. His hair was black and he had a smooth olive complexion with the exception of a healed, but still fresh, scar nearly two inches long on the right side of his windpipe.
"Congratulations," I said.
"Yeah, it’s bittersweet. Ten years."
Three combat zones: Iraq / Afghanistan / Bosnia.
"I got this souvenir." He gestured to his scar.
"I got some metal in my back; they gave me a medical discharge."
He laughed."Uncle Sam said I was done."
The athleticism in his movements and gesticulations hid what internal scars kept him from further duty.
"I bet you have some happy family."
He looked down, spoke without losing a beat.
"I haven’t told them I’m coming home yet. I’m just going to knock on the front door."
"Might want to call an ambulance and tell them to get ready for a heart attack." I suggested.
He laughed, "Yeah, I know."
I cannot possibly fathom the relief and joy his parents will have as he walks through their door tonight. I could not – I’m not a parent. I assume there will not be a dry pair of eyes in the house. I do not know what happened to this solider in the past or what will happen to him tomorrow, but I imagine tonight will be a perfect moment.
Our lives exist as a string of moments. In this string, life happens at 24 hours a day. Unedited. Yet in all those moments are the ones that give US meaning, the extraordinary moments that make every life extraordinary.