I’ll just say this right up front, so you know where I’m coming from. Like everybody I know here in Fayetteville, NC, I’m a patriot, and I get pretty emotional when I see what our soldiers have given to our nation, and us all.
Here’s a story about one, and the woman who loves him.
Two days ago, I was making a late dinner, and my phone rang. A very sweet sounding lady asked me about the 4 bedroom home I have listed for sale in Roundtree, a quiet neighborhood right outside the gate to Fort Bragg. She and her husband were sitting outside it, and wondered about the floor plan and what the price was. (Just a note to sellers–this is why a sign in the yard is a GOOD thing!)
I knew this buyer and I would get along well. We’d lapsed into our native Spanish while we were talking on the phone, and I’d discovered that her husband was originally from Argentina and she, from Venezuela. Fayetteville is a very diverse town–the military brings people here from all over the world. I could also tell from our conversations that she was a salt-of-the-earth type. She sounded much like me, and it was pretty clear she was not putting on any airs.
When we met at the house, I’ll confess, I was not prepared for what happened next.
I shook hands with both the husband and wife (well, the wife and I exchanged hugs–we already knew we liked each other) and I opened the door to show them the house. They looked around, slowly, because the husband walks with a cane and a pretty pronounced limp. Then, as they asked me questions about the details of the house, it became apparent that this man had also suffered another pretty devastating injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.
Oh, my throat got that painful lump, and my eyes started filling up!
So many of our soldiers are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with TBI. The blast from the countless IEDs that the enemy uses as booby-traps is devastating, and if the explosion doesn’t kill a soldier, the shock wave from the blast injures their brains, damage far greater than the terrible injuries that professional football players and race car drivers experience. The effect of TBI is dramatic. Speech, movement and thought are all impacted.
Pretending I needed to make a phone call, I excused myself for a minute while they continued looking around so I could get a handle on my emotions. When I walked back, I asked them what they thought.
She liked the open floor plan. “It’s really nice,” she said, “but the kids bedrooms might be a little small.” She liked it, I could tell, but like every woman I know, she still had in mind the “perfect” house and she hadn’t found it yet. “Maybe we should look at a few more.”
His speech was soft and difficult. “We’ve looked at enough houses already. This is a great house,” he struggled to say. “Let’s buy it–I’m really tired and I don’t want to look any more.”
And then I watched her as she dealt with that statement, and I was so proud of her and how clear the love for him was in her eyes. I saw her defenses go down and her eyes light up.
“Let’s meet at 4:00 after we pick up our son to write the offer,” she said.
And, so we did.
My new clients are getting a great house, in a great neighborhood, that is just outside the gate to Fort Bragg.
That’s the place where our heroes work, and the heroes who also sit and wait and heal them when they come home.