It's been a long, hot muggy day at work, the kind where I'm absolutely unashamed to hang my head over the trash can and slap handfuls of water from my waterbottle into my hair to try to cool down, while tucking the ends of a gel-filled neckerchief into my shirt to avoid dripping on the paperwork and keyboard. My subordinates, who are great people, kept coming by to check on their transplanted Alaskan, and even my boss was giving me a few long, measuring looks and urging me to leave off getting all the cats herded and go sit in the air conditioning on break.
I came home wanting a shower far more desperately than food (a very strange turn of affairs; I'm almost as food-motivated as a black lab.) Calmer Half stuck me into a shower that was a good fifteen degrees cooler than I can normally stand, then prepared a light dinner of tuna salad and veggies. He said gently to me that the two overwhelming things he felt after a day in desert combat were a dirtiness down to his soul, and a weariness down to the marrow of his bones - and while I was not in combat, I was trying to do a lot of intellectually and physically demanding work in a heat all out of my element - he figures I've come stumbling home with a shadow of the same feeling.
I know it is only the faintest of shadows, if that - and I have the deepest respect and appreciation for those who have withstood the boredom, the terror, the drudgery, the dust and mud, and the distance it places between them and those who will never know what the price of freedom really is. To those who have served, those who are serving, may you rest easy. To those who did not live to see what their service bought - may they rest in peace, and with my gratitude.