Sunday, November 10, 2013
The last tour he did before retirement was the Desert Storm. We thought since he was so close to retirement that the days of leaving for days, or months or a year on end was done. We were wrong. The girls were older now and a little shell-shocked with the idea their Dad was leaving them, and even though I considered myself "use" to it, every new time brought scary feelings and I worried I wouldn't be strong enough in the months ahead.
A few days before the company was to leave we found out that he would be leaving before most of the other guys. That made it harder. There is strength in numbers and with fanfare but instead I found myself standing alone with our three daughters in the parking lot of Headquarters without the benefit of the town waving him off with flags, or my friends standing beside me. Later I had to go to Walmart to pick up some items, it just felt surreal to me cos I knew I looked like everyone else in the store, but our life had just changed and no one could look at us and tell any difference. I knew if I would have worn a uniform then people would be patting me on the back or shaking my hands and wishing me Godspeed, instead I had on jeans and a sweatshirt. I was the mom next door, the only difference though was now I was the Dad also.
A few days after he left my brother's unit left also. We went to support the troops and the town lined the streets with flags and waved. People stopped their cars and honked and families hugged and held each other. Tears were flowing, and people were worried. It was a different kind of day than the one we had just went through.
Looking back I learned with each deployment there is a large group of people that blend into our world so well we don't even see them. The wife, husband, grandparents and children left behind. It is important that we as a country remember when their solider signs on that dotted line, his family signs with invisible ink. They serve right beside him, giving him the strength to do his assignment and to come home safely. On this day that we honor all the Veterans, we must also honor those who stand behind, who graciously give all of their strength, and love.