Before his first deployment, we undertook the gruesome task of filling out his Legacy Book. He brought it home one day and left it on his desk, unopened. We both knew what it contained and we saved it for an evening when we could both handle its contents. Sitting in the living room with babies roaming around, we planned his funeral. We chose pall bearers, music, ceremonies, what I should do with his body, and how I should spend the life insurance money.
It wasn’t nearly as dreary as it may sound. Our first plan for his body was to stuff it and stand it at the front door and dress him up for the seasons: A Santa Claus suit, an Easter Bunny suit (ok, I just made that one up), a kilt for St. Patrick’s Day. Then he came up with the extraordinary plan of picking the world’s most annoying places and asking that I spread a teaspoon of his ashes in each place so he could annoy me from beyond the grave. That’s when I told him I’d be getting a boob job with the life insurance money and started scribbling furiously in the Legacy Book.
We eventually came up with less extravagant plans. Those weren’t nearly as fun to discuss.
He deployed to Afghanistan in June of 2008. While he was gone I sent weekly care packages, including handwritten letters, pictures, favorite foods, and necessities. One day I was writing his letter and I wanted to convey that no matter how he came home, no matter what state his body or mind was in, I would be waiting. I would care for him for the remainder of our days. It wasn’t our style to just say sappy things outright like that, so I drew him a picture.
I drew him missing a leg, an arm, and an eye. I gave him a peg leg, a hook, and an eyepatch. At the bottom, I wrote, “I will love you even if you come home looking like this!” I labelled various parts (probably indecently) and paused for just a moment to reconsider before sealing it up and dropping it in the mail.
Several weeks later he called me, laughing. He told me that earlier in the day he received my letter and he was holding it, still sealed, talking with a buddy. They were discussing the possibilities of getting injured. He declared, “If I end up getting hurt, I don’t want to lose more than an arm, a leg, and an eye. Then I can wear a hook, a peg leg and an eye patch and be a pirate! Yarrrr!” They had a good giggle and then he opened my letter. There was the picture. He held it up for his friend and said, “Just like this!”
We are soulmates, for better or worse.