Leave a message at the tone? Okay, here it goes.

I don’t know if you’ll ever hear this. Maybe this isn’t even your number anymore. But if it is…

Do you remember when I called you late that night? I hadn’t talked to you in years. You were smoking God-knows-what and I was drunk on rum and coke. We talked for hours about our lives, our disappointments, memories. We grieved for all the dreams that somehow fell apart.

Do you know how much I worried when you were stationed in Japan? It was a safer place to be than Iraq, but still the middle of a war. I kept the newspaper clipping with a picture of you in uniform. I don’t know if he ever told you, but your dad was so proud of you for following in his footsteps and becoming a Marine.

I’m proud, too. I admit I claim a tiny bit of credit for helping raise you.

I remember going to the post office and sending you my grandma’s old Bible with the black leather cover that closed with a zipper. Back then, I thought it somehow might protect you. Grandma would’ve liked that I gave it to a soldier, even though I doubt you read it.

That’s okay. I’ve lost my faith, too.

When you told me you and Liz don’t talk anymore, I was sad but not surprised. She’s always gone her own direction, and I think she’s doing fine. I miss her too, but I don’t have her contact information. I hope someday you meet your niece and nephews.

That girl you vaguely mentioned that you dated when you served? I don’t need to know what happened or why you wouldn’t say her name. The way you talked I think she might have killed something inside you. I think she caused far more damage than a bullet, missile, IED or bomb could ever do. I’d like to have a word with her for breaking your heart.

You deserve love, and I hope someday you heal and find someone who makes you happy.

I don’t think you’ve changed your number, but I can’t seem to reach you anymore. I really hoped my kids could know you. I’m just hoping that your demons didn’t get you.

If you ever want to hang out, talk, or grab some lunch or even toss around a football like we used to, you can call me at this number. Life’s been crazy; there’s so much I’d like to tell you. Only this time, I’ll be sober. I don’t get drunk anymore.

Well, I better go. If you can’t get me on the phone, leave a message at the tone.