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November 4th, 2008

She Smiled at Me.

She smiled at me.

I had just gone through the TSA check in San Antonio. I sat down, put my shoes back on and started walking to the food court to look for breakfast. That’s where and when I first saw her. I saw her red hair and heavy makeup first, that’s what got my attention, then it was her face, she was really cute. Honestly, that’s what really caught my attention first, if we were to ever meet, a crush would be likely. She was leaning forward and eating a bagel or donut offered up to her by who I assumed to be her boyfriend. It was a simple yet intimate moment. It made me smile a little inside. I walked by them a second time after getting my food and that’s when it caught my eye why he was holding her food out like that for her, both her arms were missing from just above the elbows down and the scars looked really new. She couldn’t have been more then 25. Her boyfriend looked about the same age and the bags they had were mostly military. It hit me as I kept walking like a punch in the face. What I thought was a romantic and playful simple moment was in fact something else while still potentially being the same. My eyes started welling up with tears. I kept walking, trying to not let them out as I walked to my gate.

It was the second time in 24h I did this. While competing in clays, I noticed a trapper had a Segway. I walked over and gave it a bunch of close looks as I had never seen one like this or seen one up close. It was just sitting there, parked and ready for action. I wanted one instantly. The trapper was a young kid, shaved head, polite and speaking with my squad mate already about something else. As I got closer I realized I hadn’t even noticed his left leg was entirely gone, it was simply a silver pipe with gold hinges for a knee. That’s when I put it together with the news I had seen months ago about some new veterans getting Segway’s during their recovery.

I felt really foolish at first but then decided I’d rather be a fool then live in a world where I assume people are missing their limbs from war because they have a Segway or a romantic boyfriend.

Now I was sitting in a rocking chair by the gate in San Antonio, waiting for my flight. She walked by with her boyfriend and I wondered where they were off to. Was it home, was it a vacation, was it her first time out of San Antonio and its hospitals?

Now sitting on my flight in the aisle seat, getting hit with bag after bag as everyone filed on, I looked up as one bag all the sudden had a cat in it I could see through the mesh. The cat was scared and starring at me, as I leaned in for a closer look at the poor cat, the next bag hit me, I looked up and there she was again. “Sorry,” she whispered as she smiled at me when our eyes met and then down the aisle she went, cats in bags and boyfriend in tow.

I walked out of the bathroom at LaGuardia after being one of the first off the flight. There were people all around and it was really crowded in the terminal. As I stepped over some bags and through the crowd to get to baggage claim, I saw her again for the last time. I hadn’t even realized she was on my flight to NYC as well. She was bent down and wrestling with her bags with what was left of her arms. I think she was actually just talking to the cat, but I’ll never be sure. As I went down the last set of stairs, I tried to not let the tears out all over again.