New respect for a childhood friend

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When my son was just a little shaver, he came home from school one day, his big blue eyes sparkling, and said, “Mom, I have a new best friend! Can I invite my friend to come and stay overnight?”
Cort knew about overnight visits from his older cousins, who always had extra kids around, their homes filled with fun and games and laughter.
“Well, you are a little bit young yet for overnight friends,” I answered.
“I’ll have to think about it. What is your new friend’s name?” I asked.
“Megan!” he shouted as he ran out of the room.
Wow. I really had to think about it!
I heard great Megan stories that entire school year. And then Megan moved away. Over the years, we still spoke of her and wondered what all she was doing as the years rolled by.
Reunited. About four years ago, Cort surprised me by saying he was going to the Holmes County Fair. When I asked why, he said he was going to get to see Megan again after all these years!
They had a mutual friend who mentioned her name to Cort one day, and the plans were made to meet at the fair, where Megan was showing her horses.
After that, she came to our house several times, and it was so fun catching up with her.
Meg is every bit as strong and fun and adorable as I just knew she would be. And she and Cort remain friends, which is just the coolest thing.
About a year ago, when Meg came to our house, she came to say goodbye. She was leaving for boot camp.
Now, Meg can rope and ride with the best of them. She can break the highest-spirited horse you’ve ever laid eyes on.
She is a beautiful girl, but she is not a girly-girl who requires some cowboy to come and save her. I knew she would do great things, but still, the thought of boot camp for our Meg was kind of tough on the old heart strings.
One evening recently, Cort came home from college for the weekend, and his friend Jared came over. Someone else was coming, they said.
Delight. I didn’t think much of it, because lots of their friends stop in, all the time. Imagine my delight when I looked up and saw Megan standing in my kitchen!
We spent the evening catching up, with Meg telling us about boot camp and survival training. After hearing how she was slapped and punched and hit in the stomach, my own stomach was turning. Our Meg! It was hard to think about.
“Hey, I would do it all over again,” she said with steely determination in her voice.
“It was fine.”
Somehow, I was not surprised. Meg is that great all-American girl who will always land on her feet, no matter how hard she was thrown from whatever saddle she started from.
I once read that we all are within walking distance of a military veteran. Megan is just one of thousands upon thousands who have served our country in the past or continue to serve today. Each one started out as someone’s son or daughter, someone’s childhood friend, who found the determination to head off to boot camp.
For this, and for their service, each one deserves our ongoing thanks and respect.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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