“When my son, Paul, was stationed in Iraq, he had bonded with a stray golden retriever mix his platoon had named Freedom. The two were inseparable, and Freedom became a constant source of love and laughter that softened the horrors of war for Paul and the other soldiers. When he came home, he had to leave Freedom behind and it broke his heart.
“Five months after returning to the states, Paul was severely injured in a motorcycle accident sustaining a serious head injury. I prayed and kept a constant vigil at his bedside, but nothing was bringing my son back to me.
“Paul began to go in and out of consciousness, but he never recognized anyone, spoke or smiled, and the doctors feared his brain damage was even more extensive than they’d thought.
“One afternoon as I held Paul’s limp hand between mine, I put my forehead on the railing of his bed and I begged God to let me see my son’s smile again. I was so confused why He would bring Paul home safely just to take him away from us now.
“Suddenly, the door opened and a man in Army fatigues walked in, with a scraggly golden retriever mix by his side.
“‘Hello, ma’am, I’m Paul’s buddy Jerry, and this is Freedom,” he explained. ‘We heard about the accident, so I got special clearance to bring her home to him. They belong together…especially now.”
“When Freedom spotted Paul, she whined and her tail began to wag frantically. She put her paws up on the bed and nuzzled Paul’s face. Suddenly his eyes fluttered open…and my son broke into a beautiful smile of recognition.”