It’s that day again.  It’s that day when the hurt comes back worse than usual.  It’s that day when instead of a cookout on the beach, I sit alone and wonder why you left us.  You were my dad, and now you’re gone.  Who is going to give me ‘the talk?’  Who will be the best man when I marry?  Who will teach me how to change this tire, and pick me up when I fall down?

You left to go fight and you are never coming back.  Sure, I feel pride that they celebrate you, but I would trade it all today to have you back, to hear you one more time get onto me for missing my curfew.  You were mine, and they took you.  I deserve more than a shadowbox and a folded flag.

It’s that day again.  The one when I am reminded that I don’t have you to take me to the Daddy-Daughter dance.  Grandpa does his best, but it’s not the same.  He can never be you.  I was your little girl and you went away to fight.  They say you “died for our freedom,” but I don’t care about freedom.  I don’t care that you were brave.  I did not need you to be brave, I needed you to be here.  I needed you to be my dad.

Who is going to try and fail to put a pony tail in my hair in the morning, when mommy is at work?  Who is going to treat me like a princess and show me how a good man treats a woman?  I begged you not to go, and you told me everything would be okay.  I knew that was a lie.  How can I do this without you here to help me?

It’s that day again.  It’s the day when I am reminded once again that a mother should never outlive her baby.  I have no right to be alive and safe, while you are put in the ground, dressed up in your best uniform.  Why couldn’t I protect you?  Why couldn’t I convince you not to join?  A part of me always knew you were in danger. 

Why did you have to go?  You didn’t need to prove anything to anyone.  You should’ve let someone else fight.  It didn’t have to be you, my only baby.  They took you, and they left me here broken.  They had no right to demand that of me.

It’s that day again.  The one when I can hardly leave the house because I no longer have my boy.  How can a father lose his son, and keep from falling off this world?  Why couldn’t it have been me, instead of you?  I should never have taken you to that recruiter, against your mama’s wishes.  She was right.  I was wrong.

I will forever be proud of you, and what you did for all of us.  The town will never forget you.  They’ll name a stretch of road after you, and maybe a park.  None of that will take away the hurt I feel every day.  You were my only son, and I am not strong enough to endure having given you over in sacrifice.  I would trade any other boy in this town right this minute to have you back.  It shames me to think it, but it is true all the same.