Wednesday, August 10, 2011

From Afghanistan and Sweden, with love

Last August, my nephew, Lt. Matt Helbig, far left, deployed to Afghanistan with a physical and mental readiness that his family found mind-boggling. Since then, news from him in the Patika Province has been intermittent at best and always met with a stomach-churning anxiety; correspondence from a loved one leading soldiers in a war zone tends to have that effect. So imagine our surprise when news arrived that Matt had met the love of his life when a Swedish journalist, Sara Persson, was embedded in his unit to film a documentary for the BBC. Amid covert missions and firefights, something quite miraculous emerged.

In a few short days, Matt and Sara, arriving separately from different continents, will arrive on U.S. soil. It will be Sara's first trip to the U.S., where we hope and pray they'll establish a life together. Meeting them in Clarksville, Tennessee with be Matt's father, Art, my sister, Melinda, and their daughter, Cate, now 8. It's hard to imagine the anticipation and complexity of feelings that are coursing through each of them, but one thing I know to be true: love overcomes adversity; love endures; love springs eternal. And it makes babies. Sara and Matt are expecting their first child in December. How 'bout that!

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