Dear Mom and Dad:
There is a nervous laughter in this unknown valley of Afghanistan. We sit uncomfortably among the boulders with penlights in our mouths, writing our death letter. We know there will be a fierce battle, and that we are close to the Pakistan boarder. We've heard reports the Taliban leaders have met in this area, possibly with Osama Bin Laden himself. There has been a running joke that whoever gets to him first, wants a picture taken next to him in his dress.
Soon we will file up an unknown path strewn with loose rocks and falling dirt. We have painted ourselves with black shoe polish. Our Sergeant, who his black, tells us white boys we should try the new color on the street where he grew up. Until this moment, he has been a serious man, and I think he is a Christian by the way he emphasizes we need to make our peace with God. He encourages us all to write this letter and pray. He is a mountain of man, who can rake the sky with his voice. He loves our country. Tonight there is no color, only the red blood of our hearts beating as one.
When we look at the constellations, numerous stars of infinite design, we imagine that our loved ones will see the same ones. It is ironic, that the objects furthest away bring our best comfort in this dark hour.
Tell Gwen that I love her with all my heart. Perhaps we should have married before I left? Please be the shoulder she can cry on? She needs you as the family that she never had growing up. I know you wondered what I ever saw in her when she came into our youth group from a world of drugs. I remember the look on both of your faces when I told you about her tattoos. But she is the miracle that lives on. Enjoy her company for me, and may she live to love and raise a family. And should she choose to name a child after me, please let her have that as a lasting gift. After all she has been through, she deserves to be married and happy. May God be glorified for the sacrifices we will all make, large or small?
Remember mom, how since I first held a pencil in my hand, you told me I could be a writer? I'd love to write more about the war, and the heroes before me, men who have taken shrapnel for a brother, or risked their lives to give candy to children on the dirty streets. Perhaps this letter will be my one significant contribution?
Know that I will live within your hearts, because if you are reading this letter, then without a doubt you know I'm gone. Willingly, I gave my life for this country. I'm only sorry that you had to raise me, only to see me returned to you in a flag draped coffin.
We are getting the signal to form. It is pitch black up the mountain, and we will only have our slight breathing and soft footsteps to follow.
We are going into the Abyss. In times like these the still small voice speaks loudest, and is a comfort I will hear in the shadow of death.
I used to be afraid of death, but no longer. I used to think of it as the Grim Reaper hiding, but since I've been saved, he is like a poor salesman, whom I feel sorry for.
Private 1st class Cody Johnson
10th Mountain Army Division
As your mother, broken hearted and grieving until I am drenched in my tears, I must confess to you the greatest blessing. At first we didn't know what to think? We were so innocent to believe that you and Gwen had never made love. In this hour, from the depth of our grief, we have no room in our heart to judge, but only love.
These last few days have been full of confusion and tears. If you are listening from heaven, know this one great joy: Gwen is pregnant with your child, a boy child, and yes, he will be named after his father, Cody Johnson.
Love mom and Dad, forever and always.
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