Posted: May 5, 2013 in General, Military
Tags: , , , , , ,

I have been pretty delinquent in posting lately.  It is not like there has not been an abundance of things I could write about and keep within the theme of the blog.  It is not like I have been overly faithful to that theme over the last year and a half, I have strayed off the path on numerous occasions.  That is something I am going to do yet again.

Those of you who know me personally know what the current living arrangements are with me and my family.  For those that do not, we are living in opposites sides of the state for the near future.  This is not negative, not by any means.  We made a decision based off of where we were living, my retirement in just 2 short years and our desire to have our kids settled in where we wanted to end up without simply uprooting them at our whim when they would be close to completing their respective schools.  A career in the Army has caused them enough problems in their short lives for us to cause them more when me and the Army are done with each other.

So unlike the multitude of times I have gone off to far and distant lands, not really knowing what the outcome may be, we spend the majority of time apart, safe in our respective cities and as many weekends together as we can possibly spend.  In the last 10 months or so, we have managed going just a couple of weeks between visits, all except this last trip.  It was just about a full month, and it really truly sucked going that long.  My wife and son have been around this life since long before some assholes decided to fly some planes into our nightmares.  My little princess on the other hand has only ever known her daddy to be in and out of her life for periods of time.  For the first few years of her life I was actually gone more than I was home.   The last few years there has been a much better balance, but for a little girl that is only going to be 8 years old in just a couple of weeks, it is a substantial amount of time away.

There have been two times in my baby’s young life that I have witnessed that I crushed her little heart.  As long as I have know her I have been her hero, literally, her hero, and I managed to bring her to tears twice because I was leaving her.  The first time she was just about two years old.  The family was dropping me off for yet another trip and as I took my little girl out of her car seat to say goodbye and give her her hugs and kisses she looked me in the eyes and was aware, in that moment of her little life that I was leaving her.  Needless to say as I looked into her beautiful blues I was heart broken at how crushed she was and how little I was going to be able to do ease the pain she was feeling.

Yesterday was the second time I watched her little heart break.  This time she was old enough to both articulate her heartache to me and her mom and at some level understand what we were telling her and that it was just a temporary thing and I would be back no later than the end of the month to celebrate her birthday with her.  Despite all of that, it crushed me yet again to break this little girls heart.  This was after we spent a pretty cool day together despite the crappy weather, having a decent lunch and seeing Iron Man 3.  Great movie for all by the way, each of us loved it even the teenager, who it seems nothing is enjoyable anymore.

As I was driving my way home today I received a text from wifey thanking me for making them a priority this weekend and how much they miss me.  That long ride home got me to thinking a little bit once I got that text.  My first thought was that I never imagined they saw it that way.  I mean, it never dawned on me when I said I was going to get out there this weekend that I was doing it for them.  I guess on some level that was true.  The fact of the matter is that when I decided earlier in the week to get up early Saturday and head west, I was doing it because I missed them and I needed them.  It was a shitty week overall and it was far too long since I last got out there and visit my family.  So, my week ended overall on a very positive note and while I thought I was going to visit  for my own selfish reasons, I got a chance to do what any good parent should and simply be there.

When I say be there, that is exactly what I mean.  I was there wholeheartedly.  No work, no personal issues, nothing but me with the family.  We shared time together and it was good.  I left this morning disappointed that I was leaving, but feeling pretty good, that despite the life we have chosen for our children, they understand that we all have it pretty good.  They understand, whether it sucks some times or not, that we can be apart, but we are still together.  That we we do not have to be in each others pockets all the time in order to be a good, solid family.

I love what I do for a living.  I am good at it, I work with the best there is in the business.  It has never been the safest life but we have done our best to prepare, as much as anyone can in this career field, to be able to exist without each other.  We have never lied to our kids or downplayed the significance of what happens down range.  For is, we have found this to be the best course of action for our children. This is much to the chagrin of a my son’s grammar school when he decided to tell his class one day many years ago where Iraq was and how dangerous it could be.  I guess that did not sit too well with the parents of some of his classmates as we were asked to not be so honest with our enthusiastic child.

I have seen the loss in the eyes of children whose parents did not make it back.  It is unforgettable and it is unique each time, but we owe it to those children to see it.  We owe it to those we have lost.  My daughter recently asked me what Memorial day was and I told her it was our time to remember those who died in the military.  The part that I did not, could not get across to her at the time is that it is not just honoring those who gave their lives, but it is also honoring the sacrifices they made before, during and after the last moments of their lives.  It is the time away, the time their little princess will never get again.  It i honoring the loss that goes on long after the pain starts to fade and they move further along in their lives.

Bottom line we need to make the most of the time we have with our family.  It is precious and you never know when it will be no more.  Time is not simply a clock ticking away, it has depth and dimension and the time you invest now lives on long after you do.  I thank my family, my wife, my son, and my little princess for reminding me of that constantly.  Not because I need a constant reminder, but because sometimes we all need to be reeled back in to the things that matter.

  1. Valerie Austin says:

    Beautiful family, beautiful thoughts, beautiful meaning.


  2. John Nichols says:

    Well written and meaningful.


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