Your father mailed the journal to me in July 2006, shortly after one of his young soldiers was killed in an explosion eerily similar to the one that would claim his own life. He was so shaken after pulling the young man's body, piece by piece, out of a bombed tank that he sent the journal to me, unfinished. He had more to say, but that would have to wait until he came home on a two- week leave to meet you, six weeks before he died.
I read the journal in the calm of night on the day it arrived, with you sleeping next to me, and fell in love with my gentle warrior all over again. He was the most honorable man I have ever known, and the most complex. I do not want to portray your dad as a saint whose example you could never live up to. He was not. He was gentle, benevolent, and loyal, but he could also be moody, stubborn, and withholding. He would brood for days over a perceived slight, like the time I spent my birthday with my sisters and girlfriends instead of with him. He put his military service ahead of his family.
I also want you to understand me—an imperfect woman who deeply loved her man but struggled during our long courtship to accept him as he was. We were together for the better part of a decade, half of which he spent waiting for me to fall in love with him. Truth be told, every girl has an image of the man with whom she will walk down the aisle one day, and he was not the groom I had imagined. He was excruciatingly introverted, a procrastinator, and got his news, God forgive him, from television instead of the New York Times, where I have worked as a journalist for more than eleven years.
I am loquacious, assertive, and impatient, which mostly amused your father but sometimes annoyed him. I am also obstinate and impulsive. My weight fluctuates when I am stressed. I curse in traffic.