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I never knew the fierce warrior who led those troops, and I was sometimes a mystery to him, too. He thought I talked things to death. He read my newspaper stories if I asked him to, but he had no concept of how I could report and write about something momentous, a murder trial or a space shuttle explosion, in an afternoon. He also never understood how I could splurge on a diamond tennis bracelet but go to three stores to find the best price on mustard. He thought I sometimes expected too much of him, which perhaps I did.

Still, we were in love. By the time he received his orders for Iraq in December 2004, we were finally ready to be a family. We decided to have you. At forty years old, I got pregnant in one passionate weekend when your father was on a break from training.

Then, in the dusk of an early spring day nearly four months after he left for Iraq, I lay in a hospital bed giving birth to you, wracked by a pain so intense I did not think my body could endure it. I could not know that only six months later I would fall to the floor screaming from a pain more wrenching than childbirth, when I learned that your father had been killed. That night I reached for your journal, and I have read it a hundred times since. I find new insights every time.

FROM: Unconventional, Unforgettable Dads
Published on April 13, 2009

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