I was given the heads-up about a walk-in just fifteen minutes before the scheduled appointment, and I had been taking a nap. After grumbling for a few seconds, I rallied: brushed my teeth quickly, fixed my hair, repaired my makeup (I'm a pro!), grabbed my oil and put my game face on.
After I called from the entrance to the men's spa and received acknowledgment from the client, I had to wait for a few moments, and I could hear his hesitant approach; he came around the corner, using a cane, taking careful steps with his twisted leg, his torso slightly hunched over, a huge smile on his face.
As we greeted each other, I shook his left hand, since he held the cane in his right.
While I guided him to the treatment room, I asked him a bit about his health history, and he explained he'd just come home from Iraq.
IEDs do massive damage, and those who survive them are usually permanently disabled, like my client.
Slightly halting speech from a brain injury, shrapnel and surgical scars all over his body, yet that incandescent smile that would not quit: tomorrow was his 24th wedding anniversary, and he was the luckiest man on earth.
Two healthy, happy children, an 8-month-old granddaughter he dotes on, and the love of his life still with him, by his side. His only regret that he couldn't bring all his soldiers home with him; two had lost their lives in the desert, and he told me he'd have gladly taken their place...a true hero.
If I can give to such a man even one moment of respite, a brief period without pain, and maybe an ear and a heart to listen to his story, I'm fulfilled.
I thanked him for his service, told him I was grateful for his sacrifice, and that the entire country is in his debt, but his response to that shook me. He told me I, and people like myself, those who are grateful and who love and appreciate the United States and know how good we have it here, are the reason he went to war. HE was grateful to ME, this wounded warrior, this hero. And I was left without words. Only tears.