Friday, September 25, 2009

War Is Hell

It began this morning, early, before the gray skies and dripping trees were even visible. A daddy stepped off his front porch, entered a waiting vehicle, and hearts began to break.

This particular daddy is the father of Bear's Best Girlie and her two brothers. He is also married to my good friend J. We met him the first week they, and we, were in Anchorage, having all moved to the state at the same time; they for a new Associate Pastorate at a local church, and we for our newest adventure. We talked, we bonded, the guys fished, our children were inseparable. Now he is gone, departed for a 12-month deployment to Baghdad, Iraq as Chaplain of a Army National Guard unit from Wisconsin.

J and T knew of this deployment for some time; they began to prepare both themselves and their children with seriousness and humor, covering everything from Cub Scouts to birthdays to learning to drive the travel trailer. But nothing could have prepared them for these last few days.

How does one, really, get ready to say goodbye? What is there to say? I often wonder about those last evenings of military families and the exhaustion they must feel of the days prior to deployment. Do you fill the day with activity or spend those last hours huddled together, hands and hearts intertwined so that not a moment is wasted?

I can only imagine the scenario this morning. How many wives have stood at the door, desperately memorizing their loved one's face, smell, and feel as they held on just one more time? How many husbands have had to reach up and unclasp the hands of a partner's from around their neck, aching to keep them there but knowing he could not, before turning and walking down the driveway, alone?

Godspeed to all of you. May your road home be a smooth one.

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