Your uniform. You wearing it, walking in the door after a long day at work. Sometimes, you’d been gone for weeks or months. I remember you wrapping your long arms around me, my face pressed into your chest and the patches on your uniform. I remember how you would sigh, as if everything was right in the world when I was in your arms. I remember the smell of you, the feel of you, the safety I felt when I was in your arms. You called it smooshing me. My soldier. My love.
I remember seeing you getting promoted. Getting awards. Getting recognition for your accomplishments and dedication to the Army. I remember how proud I was of you every day. I remember what a good leader you were. I remember watching your soldiers respect and like you. I remember always thinking how lucky I was to be married to such a wonderful man and soldier.
I remember coming home after you died. I remember seeing your bag sitting at the door, your uniform inside. It was as if you were going to leave for work and come home wearing it. But you never would again. I remember taking it out of the bag, pressing my face into it and screaming. Sobbing. Laying on the floor in the entryway, dying a little more. The realization that you will never smoosh me again setting me on fire.
I remember them telling me how good you looked in your last uniform. I remember them telling me you looked like you were sleeping. I am glad you got to be cremated in the uniform you were so proud to wear for more than 16 years.
Your work uniform is still in your duffle bag. I can’t bring myself to do anything with it yet. Every once in a while, I open the bag and put it to my face. It doesn’t really smell like you anymore but I know you wore it. It’s one thing I will never let go of.
You were my soldier. My love. My best friend. My life. I will always love that uniform.