Even when her hair forfeits its sunny hue and the elasticity of youthful skin begins to slouch, she'll remember the day he came home, how it felt to have him unknowingly approach her lunch party from behind and ask about the menu. She'll never forget the exact lurch of her heart and the rush of concentrated excitement that coursed through her every cell and left her shaking and in tears. Of all of them, even if he isn't the last, his memory will more than likely remain the strongest.
Over the phone I can hear the quiver of joy in her speech, "Obviously you didn't get my voicemail!" she taunts. Obviously I didn't. In a squeal she declares his homecoming and I waver on tears myself in the wake of her contagious mood. I don't know him from Adam save the stories she tells of off-hour phone calls and photos he sends, yet I find relief in the fact that he's finally here - feet on safer soil, un-uniformed, close enough for her to touch and smell him. Today she loves the Army because they brought him home. For the first time in some six months her mind is free. I imagine that she breathes easier in the security of his distance from explosives and enemy threats.
She'll tell her children about this Thursday, no matter their father, for as long as there is war, there will be war stories and the way that they defined a generation.