The Army likes to operate on it’s own time schedule and isn’t designed to take in to account the impact on the families at home. The result from this can be frustration, last minute changes, etc, but it is all to ensure that the mission itself is priority.
While we were preparing for our journey to “see you soon,” the Army did what it does best and changed plans. The date of the farewell event was changed from a day that was during our trip, to the day after our return flight home. At first this didn’t seem like a big deal…they generally are a bunch of VIPs giving speeches, making families “feel good” about being apart and motivating the soldiers for the mission that lay ahead. The only option our family has is to embrace each change with an open mind, recognizing the value of the moments we have together.
Our time was limited and we were committed to making the best of it. Our first morning together as a family we quickly tried to fall back to “normal.” However, being a part for an extended period of time can lead to any family finding a new “normal.”
The kids were super excited to be with their dad. There were endless snuggles and lots of loving. We quickly set off to explore the local zoo, something that we had been meaning to do the entire time we had lived in Colorado. Each step along the path one, if not both, of the girls were holding their dad’s hand, sticking close as if they felt if they wandered too far from him he might just slip away. It was very evident how much they had longed from the security of their father being by their side. We explored and talked and cherished every moment of being together.
As the afternoon approached the kids started to show signs of jet lag and the late night arrival. Deciding to head off for lunch we all climbed in to the car. It wasn’t long in to the ride that the tears started to flow. Our youngest sat broken in the backseat, with her brother and sister on either side, letting her heart out. It’s easy at times to forget how delicate our kids are as we navigate life, but in that moment I was quickly reminded of just how confusing a deployment can be through the eyes of a five year old.
“Mama, I don’t want to leave Daddy again!”
“I want to stay here with Daddy and my Colorado friends. I don’t want to go back!”
“We just got Daddy back, why does he have to leave us again?’
Each tear and each inquiry a painful stab at our hearts. There are few things more painful then watching and hearing the anguish in your child’s eyes. It was starkly evident that our youngest did not understand that Daddy wasn’t going to be staying in Colorado, and instead thought that we had turned our back on him and had moved across the country without him.
Driving to lunch, blinking back tears, knowing the pain she was feeling and knowing how much her words hurt my husband, all I could do was try to find a way to let her have closure. Even if I didn’t yet know what that looked like.
All I wanted to do was to take her hurt away.
Then, just as quickly as they started, the tears stopped but it was evident that the pain was still there. Sleepily she rested her head on her brothers shoulder, he rested his head against hers and they silently comforted each other.
As hard as this is, I will be forever grateful for these moments. Each day I see the broken fractures that deployment has placed in our foundation begin to heal, anew, building a new foundation on which we can grow stronger.
Do I wish we never had to feel pain? Sure, at times….but if we didn’t would we ever really understand how truly blessed we are?