Just before they hoisted the gurney into the helicopter they waved us over— my young son and me— to say goodbye. One arm cradling my shaken son’s shoulders, I picked up her hand, warm and weighty, spread her fingers into a fan, and kissed the middle of it. We first did this after reading The Kissing Hand on her first morning of kindergarten. “If you miss me,” I had said to her then, “put your hand to your cheek and you’ll know I love you.” She had raised my hand to her face and kissed me back. I leaned forward now, And, because she couldn’t do so herself, I placed her just-kissed hand on her cheek. “We’ll see you soon,” I stage-whispered, willing the uncertainty— for her sake, for his sake, for my sake— into submission. Nurses secured safety belts, like parents strapping an infant into a car seat. They checked IV lines, and shoved the stretcher— laden with my hopes, my dreams, my fears— onto the helicopter. My son and I squeezed each other’s hands, anchoring each other, and staggered, two shell-shocked soldiers emerging from combat, toward the parking lot, watching her fly above us, away from us, until she was a speck in the sky. And then my man-son lifted my lifeless hand, spread it into a fan with his small fingers, and kissed it twice.