EOW - his end of watch, as an officer, as a father, as a husband came unexpectedly, harshly, leaving a cold chasm where we knew the warmth of his beating heart and his love to be. There are two dark, terrifying memories I have never shaken from that time - wandering through the endless flower bouquets littering my Grandma's backyard, amidst unfamiliar (though caring, I'm sure) faces, and then nightly lying in my bed, awake, expectantly awaiting his arrival home.
BOW - beginning of watch, as a father, as a husband, as a man taking on three broken hearts and rescuing them from their wandering loneliness. I did not, at first, welcome this comfort/provision/care/love - I was confident that my Daddy was coming home and I knew my loyalty to him would matter, deeply. The truth eventually has a way of finding each of us, and it was crushing. But this man, this human heart, in all it's frailty, in all it's naivety about the "fixability" of this small family, loved faithfully/relentlessly and he has shown me the heart of a father. I don't think my appreciation for this life (his life) lived in service (to us, his family, and to so many others) was felt or expressed until I was teetering on the edge of independence, finding my own feet in the world. In that moment, I remember gratitude and disbelief overwhelming me.