“Have you told them yet?”
Brandon looks up at me from across the table and shakes his head.
“I’ve started talking with Hope. Just a little bit,” he says.
Every night, honestly every night, when Hope prays she says: ‘Thank you God that we’re all together.’ I don’t know what she knows. I don’t know what she senses. But she seems to understand – better than me sometimes – that our family is God’s grace-gift to each of us, our togetherness is a blessing.
Brandon is leaving again.
Less than six months after returning home from a 14-month deployment, the Army is sending him away for training. He leaves in a few days and will be gone four months… until late August. He’ll miss another summer at home.
“At least it’s not Iraq,” I’ve been told. “At least he’ll be in the same country, same time zone.” It’s true.
But he will not be here. He will not be here for afternoons in the sun, hours of splashing at the mushroom pool, days at the park, trips to New Hampshire, summer evenings on the back deck of the new home. He will not be here for Rhema’s middle-of-the-night antics and doctor’s appointments in Boston and meetings and birthdays and end-of-year school programs.
In practical terms, we’re just about ready. Got neighbors on the look-out, got special locks on the doors and windows, the 6-foot tall fence is installed so Rhema can’t get out. My work schedule is set and summer programs for the girls are in place. We’re concerned about Rhema – she needs constant, one-on-one support, and she’s going through a med withdrawal and some difficult behaviors have cropped up. But we’re working on getting respite care, hoping the funding will come through.
And still, of course, we’re not ready. Not ready to tell Hope her Daddy is going away again. She has basked and glowed in his attention these past months, delighted to awake every morning and find him still here. (When he first got back from Iraq she cried if he just left to go to the store.) And Rhema… I can’t pretend to know what she thinks or understands. But I know she feels his absences deeply, and I know she is more sure of herself, more settled, when he is near.
No matter how many times he leaves, it hurts his heart to miss so much time with his family. And as for me, I will do this. But I kind of don’t know how I’m going to do this. Again. I’d finally just found my way, found my rhythm with my mate. God’s been teaching us something about what it really means to treasure one another. My husband. I have enjoyed him, I have enjoyed me with him, so much.
And this feels like a very impolite interruption.
So many friends – some of whom I’ve never even seen face to face – have prayed for us. Thank you. I’m asking, would you pray for us again? Four months should seem like a breeze compared to the year-long deployments we’ve endured. But truly, for many reasons, this separation is the hardest.
It’s funny (not really), but last year’s long and lonely summer was bearable only because I was counting on the fact that this summer would be different. Now I wonder if perhaps there are lessons I need to learn again in the heat of day and on dark, quiet nights… that I can trust the Lord to fill the voids in my life, to indeed be my joy and strength, my enough. I would do well to review lessons in humility and contentment and thankfulness and how to ask for help.
And maybe, most of all in this school of some hard knocks, I need to know absolutely that He is here, wherever we are, and all that we need.
Again and again.
“I am with you always…” Matt. 28:20