This I Believe: Going Home
It is Friday June 2nd, 2006. Though I have been away from our Manhattan apartment, traveling for business for only two days, for three months I feel I haven’t truly been home. That morning of Sunday March 5th, my wife’s dear brother, Army Infantry SPC Ethan was shot in the head by Iraqi gunfire. Flown within two days to Landstuhl, and then to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda MD, Ethan is currently in a coma at Walter Reed Army Hospital in DC. And my wife Liza and parents-in-law have been by Ethan’s side in MD and DC ever since, while I stay in New York, working, business-traveling, “holding down the fort” 300 miles away. Weekend visits to see Ethan and my Liza in DC somewhat offer home, but only a glimpse of it- Liza and I, we are both transformed now by our focus on helping Ethan heal.
I do believe that Ethan will heal and come back to us again. He is slowly doing that. I believe that he will see his wife Britni again- his fiancé he knew from high school, whom we had arranged to have him legally marry while in coma. I believe his suffering, our suffering, and our family split, was neither because of our sins nor his, but because of some greater good that we are not humanly meant to perceive. It strengthens my everyday leap of faith that Ethan and all of us involved in this war will heal. And it comforts me especially today, Friday June 2nd 2006, because today I am in tears.
It is 3:30pm, I am on Delta flight 720 Atlanta to Greensboro, NC and the pilot announces something extraordinary. With us on the plane is the body of a fallen soldier killed in Iraq one Friday ago. His name is Marine Lance Cprl. Kevin , and his 20-year-old body is being flown, escorted by another soldier, whom our pilot asks us to allow to deplane before any of us. My tears, my thoughts, they are all for his family and my own. The groom-to-be, his Marine body, comes home to his family one last time.
And on this day, Friday June 2nd 2006, at 10:28am, Ethan’s baby, Eben is born, brought into the world after his wife carried him for 9 months, through emotional and physical stress of Ethan’s condition, and a difficult pregnancy.
This day, the world welcomes one life while it sees the departure of another. These lives are all gathered in the same subset of circumstance. For Ethan in his coma at Walter Reed Army Hospital, so too is a part of my wife there, and thus there am I, lying on that bed. And for every soldier in combat fighting, I believe out there is a part of us too, fighting.
And ultimately, my belief is this: that one day soon, our dear Ethan, all of our troops, and even my wife and I, will find our way home.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.