Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash

Warriors’ hearts, hardened for battle, reserve expectation the mind wages war within for years to come. I held no such belief. There were no boots laced up, nor goodbyes said, duffle bag in hand.

Standing before family and friends, I dressed in my finest. I professed the best of intentions — love, loyalty, and devotion, and served it up buffet-style with plates packed full of pasta and haphazardly cut slices of cake.