I’m locked out of my iPad and I’m losing my mind.

I’ve been locked out for a few weeks now, and I’m holding out on restoring it. It holds one picture that I desperately need to keep, that I desperately hope won’t be erased if I attempt to unlock it again.

It’s an image of me and this little boy. I don’t think he even noticed the camera aiming at him, or realized that we were taking a picture right then and there. We’re in a hospital; he had an eye patch, a leg dressing, and if I remember correctly, he also had some gauze wrapped around his head.

I was deployed to Afghanistan and was working in the hospital when he, his older brother and their younger cousin were taken to us. They were playing on a field and someone picked up an explosive device that detonated immediately.

I remember the first time he asked what my name was and repeated it perfectly. He even smiled a little when he said it. He had these beautiful, sad eyes. He didn’t say much, but I know that he liked chocolate chip cookies and Transformers. I visited him on a daily basis and worried about his health whenever I left to go back to my room. I don’t know what I was even trying to do. I just wanted to know that he was going to be okay.

The day he transferred to the local hospital, I argued about the quality of care he was going to have given the severity of his injuries. How the fuck was he going to survive? Can we keep in touch? If I wanted to send something, would it get to him safely? The interpreter simply shook his head and told me that I had gotten too attached. There was nothing I could do to protect him from the other atrocities of war.

It’s heartbreaking to witness children lose their innocence, their minds, their childhoods, their lives, simply because they were born into fucked up circumstances.

I just can’t bring myself to give up on trying to get that one picture. I still think about that little boy every day; it’s hard not to. And I still hold onto that hope that he’s okay.