Well we are officially in the last quarter of this deployment. R&R is over, Homecoming is in the not so distant horizon and this is when time starts tick tick ticking by ever so slowly.
This morning, when I woke at the crack of dawn to get ready, watching my husband put on his uniform, piece by piece, strategically preparing his physical being I pushed the thoughts away. I got dressed, brushed my crazy hair, and proceeded to get Max ready for a day with Grammy Pooh thanks to another never ending fever. I made bottles, double checked his bag, and found his blanket that isn’t too warm in the hot Oklahoma summer. I went to get him ready and Rob came up from behind me and wrapped his arms around my neck and body. And I just gave in.
We finished getting ready and got in the car, stopping to get gas on the way, talking lightly of things that don’t matter with the occasional deployment related comment thrown in. And I had to ask, “Do you feel like you are driving to a funeral?”
“No” he said. Oh, um because I do.
When you are saying goodbye again, for like the millionth time you start to go about it robotically. I can’t even begin to count how many times I have said goodbye to Rob as he leaves for military duty. In the beginning it was a ten week AIT. In the middle it was 2 weeks, 3 weeks, even 4 weeks of Annual Training. Weekends away for drill. And then the big ones. Saying goodbye before Afghanistan, saying goodbye for a full 11 months, no webcam, no sight of him at all, saying goodbye last summer for a month of training in preparation for this deployment, saying goodbye when Max was 10 days old, a little bug tucked into his car seat, saying goodbye 10 weeks later when Rob left after Christmas, knowing he was really going to Iraq, and saying goodbye this morning for another 3ish months, Max saying Baba and looking at Rob intently.
Saying goodbye is hard. When you know it is coming you get ready, you prepare and then it happens. Somewhere along the way, the dread turns to a pit in your stomach and the tears threaten your eyes. You lose something every time you say goodbye, a bit of spirit, a bit of happiness and a bit of comfort because your loved one is in harms way again.
The airport is not my favorite. I don’t like saying goodbye to Rob, the crowds, the automatic stares you get when accompanied by a hot guy in uniform. When you are picking up from the airport you get thank you’s and smiles as they watch you walk together hand in hand, make up on, hair coifed, baby dressed oh so cute, when you are dropping off you only get sympathetic glances and looks that last just a moment too long. Invasions into a non private goodbye, clothes thrown on, baby still in jammies. But it doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t really matter who is there, what they are thinking or where we are, goodbyes are hard and I don’t like doing them. I dread them much like driving to a funeral. But I am reminded that I am not driving to a funeral, Thank You Lord. What about the parents of a sweet boy, only 11 months old who really will drive to a funeral tomorrow. How are they feeling, how are they coping? They are relying on the Lord to get them through this time, they are relying on their faith, and they are PRAISING the Lord for the life that their son was given, the obstacles he survived and the Healer that He was in His way. If they can drive to the funeral of their son, relying on Him, on Faith and PRAISING Him the entire way I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can make it through today.
I walked through this morning reminded of the people hurting for far greater reasons than this and knowing that after today I didn’t have to say goodbye again for awhile. Only Hello again, in a time that can be counted in weeks, not months or years, Hello Again, we love you, we missed you (emphasis on past tense) Hello Again, you’re home.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5)