Tonight, we celebrated the homecoming of a real life GI Joe at an upscale Italian restaurant with a family style dinner menu that would make even the Gambino mobsters jealous. We celebrated the safe return of this brave solider, a man with a boyish smile that had won our hearts, with strong shoulders that had pulled fellow soldiers from burning Humvees. A man who knew what it was like to look death in the face and make it home to the arms of his adoring flag waving financee.

We celebrated with bruschetta. We celebrated with chicken parmesan. We celebrated with cheesecake. Maybe if I had made the choices, we would have had steamed broccoli and baked salmon but who am I to deny this defender of freedom crispy deep-fried chicken covered in stringy melted mozzarella cheese atop a mound of spaghetti with marinara. Not me. He had been eating MREs for the last year, meals served in silver pouches that you add water, shake and call supper. Meals that made the grilled chicken and baked fish I’d been living on the last year seem decadent.

I would just fill up on the spinach salad, try some of the entree and eat until I was satisfied. This meal would be a little higher in calories than normal for me but I wouldn’t go overboard. I wouldn’t eat until I needed to unzip my skirt. I wouldn’t eat until it hurt to breathe. I wouldn’t and I didn’t, for the most part.

I love anything with lemon, lemonade, lemony chicken picatta, lemon tarts, lemons in iced tea, and most especially lemon pound cake, the only thing my Granny Ruth could cook, successfully, that is. So when it was time to leave and the waiter brought lemon cookies as a thank you to our patriot, I sort of lost it. 6 cookies and only one taker. It would be rude to leave the other 5, right?

I left Maggiano’s with 5 lemon cookies wedged in my clutch. No to go box, not even wrapped in a napkin, just shoved in my purse. I waited for my car thinking of how good those tangy sweet crescent moons would be with a glass of milk later, a perfect midnight snack. As I tipped the valet and hopped in my car, I almost reached for one to pop in my mouth for the ride home.

Almost. I gave them away at my next stop. All five of them.

Psalm 73:2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped, I had nearly lost my foothold.

Photography courtesy of Ashley Oman Chapman Photography

Photography courtesy of Ashley Oman Chapman Photography