I met B and C just before or around the time that J and I were about to marry. They were leaving to Afghanistan with their newborn daughter. That was approximately 6 years ago.
I have been trying to keep in touch with them for the past 6 years, not letting go of them because I feared for them, admired the courage and wondered just how does one do that for so many years in a country that seems as dangerous as Afghanistan. They are home on home leave with C pregnant and 2 weeks away from her due date. It was hard not to contrast the enthusiastic young couple I met when I first met them with the people I met this afternoon with their kids.
I liked C because she reminded me of some of my friends, young, intelligent, not superficial, realistic and bold in a mature way, but still enthusiastic, easy to smile and laugh. I saw qualities in her that I admired.
Today when I met with them, I was just I guess, surprised at the couple I met. They looked much older, though they are younger than I. They seemed tireless, but reserving their energy. They seemed serious. They listened well, questioned carefully. Talked about daily life and looking for bombs under their car before going places.
I saw B first, and probably because in Afghanistan females simply don't talk to males they don't know, he looked visibly uncomfortable with my introducing myself and extending my hand for a handshake. He went to find C.
It all made me consider how hard their job and life must be, and wonder about the changes that I saw in them.
I asked probably too many questions, not wanting to pry and saying "If it isn't private..." because I wanted to hear, but I didn't want to make them uncomfortable or unwittingly ask something too private.