The first time he said goodbye for a year it was to me and my 7-month pregnant belly in a German airport. He’ll tell you it broke his heart. I often wonder how it must have been for him, to get that phone call in a war zone that he was a father for the first time. Of all the moments he’s missed – first teeth and first lost teeth, first steps and first days of school – I wish the most that he could have had that, seen that, when Rhema burst onto the scene in all her glory.
The second time he said goodbye Rhema was 5 and Hope was 2, and it was the hardest. Before he left, he kissed Rhema and put her on the bus and hoped she understood. Then he held Hope. And she gave him a dinosaur hug so big I believe he could feel it for the next year and two months (to be exact).
Now we are trying to wrap our heads around the fact that he’s being called to deploy again. The girls and I will not have to move… It’s bittersweet. We prayed that God would keep the family together. Another year-long deployment is not what we had in mind. But I trust that God’s answer to the prayer is still yes.
I’ve known him for a long time and I marvel at his generous heart. I marvel at him and others who serve in the military; they are willing to sacrifice again and again, they have duty, honor and service at their core.
He loves this family and he loves this country.
He will take these next few months to cherish the time with us. As he’s done before, he’ll put everything in order – and give me a tutorial in auto care and changing light bulbs and checking the mail. He’ll find a way to tell the girls he’s leaving again. Then with a heavy heart and not a single complaint, he will go.
One more time.
“…We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” ~Colossians 1:11, The Message