The young soldier was ready. Just one more thing to do.
He tilted his laptop so the webcam centered his face on the screen. The worry lines and sad eyes had to go, so he took a breath and composed a smile. One more quick adjustment to his uniform, and he started recording.
“Hi Dylan. I hope that’s what your mom ended up naming you, cuz that’s the name we had picked out when I had to tell you goodbye, and that’s who you’ll always be to me.
I wish I could've stayed around to find out if you ended up bein' a girl Dylan or a boy Dylan, but that don’t really matter.
What matters is that you know who I am.
I’m your dad, Dylan, and you’re my kid.
I hate that I’m gonna miss your birthday, an’ that’s why I’m makin' this. Since I can’t be there in person, I figured this was the next best thing.
So happy birthday, kiddo.
If you’re a girl I'd have thrown you the best party and danced you around the room, laughin' at the ribbons bouncin' in your hair. I’d plant a kiss on your forehead and wish you happy birthday under a spotlight.
If you’re a boy, I’d have taken you to the ballgame and we’d pig out on hotdogs and peanuts and drink too much Coke. An’ I’d have them spell out “Happy Birthday, Dylan” on the big screen.
Since I can’t do those things, I want you to at least be able to see me an' hear me tell you. I promise I’m thinkin' 'bout you right now, whether I'm still fightin' this war somewhere, or I'm in Heaven with Jesus.
I wanna tell you why I had to go, an’ I hope you understand.
See, Dylan, sometimes a person’s got to make a choice. You gotta choose what’s most important for everyone, and you gotta trust that God’ll see you through.
To me, fightin' to keep our country free is really important.
Fightin' to keep other people free is just as important.
We got it good here, kiddo. At least we do now. I joined the service to help make sure it stays that way for you. An’ I know that over there there’s a daddy who loves his kids too.
If it means layin' down my life to save someone else's...well, I wouldn’t be the first one to do it. I figure yer mom’s raisin’ you to know the Lord, so that’s all I’ll say about that.
Dylan, I love you so much it hurts, even though I've never met you. It’s a good hurt, though. A love hurt.
If you’re a girl, I know you’ll feel that kind of hurt someday. And if you are a boy, I hope you do. I really hope you do, son.
I love you, Dylan. Happy birthday.”
The Soldier pressed STOP and wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. After logging onto his web mail, he composed a last love letter to his wife.
“My Sweet Dumplin,
You know I hope with all my heart that I’ll be back home with you for good in two years. I’ll be praying for that as long as I’m gone, and I know you will too.
But you also know there’s a chance I won’t come back.
This war won’t be over anytime soon, no matter what the media says. There’s real fighting still going on, and people are still dying.
I made a video, just in case I don’t make it home. It’s for Dylan. I want you to play it for him or her on the day he or she gets here, so my voice will be one of the first ones the kiddo hears. I probably won't be there for birthday number two, so play it for the kiddo then. And on every birthday after that if I’m not there for whatever reason.
I don’t want Dylan to grow up not knowing me.
I love you my Sweet Apple Dumplin. And I’ll never stop. I hope to see you real soon.”
He attached the video and scheduled delivery for six months from today. After another swipe at his eyes, the young soldier shut down his computer, and stood to go.
The transport was waiting.
Our host for Friday Fiction today is Joanne Sher!! (Hi Jo!) Click on over to her blog, "An Open Book" and add a link to your own fiction (after reading her story, of course), or just follow the links and read along. Don't forget to leave an encouraging word to let the writers know you are reading! (We thrive on that, you know.)
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
- Psalm 18:24 (Msg)