The rag-tag militia would arrive in ones and twos from all over the country.
Many left a day early to beat a winter storm that threatened to keep them from their long-planned offensive.
Those left behind lit candles, hoping one day all would find their way back home.
And when they arrived at the battlefields in Phoenix, they found themselves with too few men. Early messages that got through to the home front were grim. One of the troops had made the journey, showing his determination, and yet he was injured.
They had expected to arrive sixteen strong. Fighting with groups of eleven at a time, substituting men as necessary due to fatigue or injury.
The other armies did the same.
But their troops arrived from the north, south and west, with strength in their numbers.
Ours did not.
The next dispatches home contained word of injuries.
After a glorious victory by our underdogs, we were three men down.
The injured man had battled bravely and admirably, but had no more to give.
One warrior was sidelined with a broken nose, the manner of which he received it to be reviewed, according to the rules governing the barbarity of war outlined by the Geneva Convention, at a later date.
My own soldier was okay, if bloody, from laying it all on the line.
In the last battle, we fielded nine men, and with cleverness and skill not seen since the King Leonidas, with 7000 Spartans and Greeks, held the million Persians off at Thermopylae, our men held the other army off for more than three quarters of the conflict, before we were overrun.
And then there was pizza.
And shoulder punches, and injury comparisons, and accolades and bragging rights.
It was soccer, baby.
Turns out that in the big game, when we had only 9 boys total, the other team fielded eleven and had six subs to help out if anyone got tired or hurt. They were also nationally ranked. Of the thousands of soccer teams in the country, this team was ranked thirty-something, and they were coming off of several tournament championships, and needed three goals to make it through to the next round in this tournament.
The Nearly Perfect Husband said it was a dogfight.
At half time it was 0:0.
By the end of the game, we’d held them to two.
And our embattled and broken and exhausted players were the happiest losers on the dang planet.
This winter has been crazy for us all, and wHacky as heck for anyone who relies on air travel to get them places.
The fact that Gabe’s team arrived in Phoenix with even eleven (well, ten and a half if you count the injured soldier as a half player) of the sixteen they had planned to have out there was amazing, considering all the flight cancellations in the days leading up to the tournament.
Gabe and John were gone for six days in total because they had to leave early.
And what was I doing?
I was, literally, keeping the home fires burning.
No, of course the Nearly Perfect Husband and Self-Proclaimed Perfect Boy weren’t at war or in any danger, beyond possible canceled flights and/or delays coming back home.
But I still lit a candle for fun, along with the fires going nearly non-stop in two fireplaces as back to back winter storms wHizzed and wHirled outside.
Sure, my candle was a tea light in a pretty glass shaped heart on my hearth, versus a taper in an old pewter candle holder placed in a front widow in 1776, but it was still a candle dammit.
And through the fire stoking, snow blowing, care and feeding of in-laws and dogs and the accidental basement cat, waves of realization would wash over me now and again.
I’m so lucky.
I’m so lucky to have people in my life that I miss.
I’m lucky that we all – myself, the Nearly Perfect Husband, and all three and a half kids – create group texts so that we can all follow special events, goofy photos, or even just an ongoing, humorous comment thread on something we find funny.
I’m lucky that I can be alone, without being lonely or needy.
I’m lucky that I have that free Netflix subscription and could binge watch Orange is the New Black (racy but good) and House of Cards (just dang good) without having to argue over what to watch with the other inhabitants of the Man Cave who – and this is a topic for a different time – would have chosen The Bachelor instead (Yep. Absolutely true. I just wish I was kidding).
I don’t know why lighting a silly tea light candle made me feel so lucky for things serious and not so serious.
I suppose my brain is just wHierd.
But I realized that, though I am a strong and independent woman, I was completely comfortable – and grateful – that I was eagerly anticipating my men coming home.
Even if it was just from a soccer war.
Where it was 85 degrees and sunny the entire time.
You know what?
Thanks for readin’.
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