Monday, May 28, 2012
August 6, 2008 - The e-mail I had been dreading finally came. We always knew it was never a matter of if Chris would deploy again, it was a matter of when he would be deployed. The day after we renewed our wedding vows to celebrate 7 1/2 years of marriage and the guests had left and now we faced what I had hoped wouldn't come - even though in the back of my head I knew we were on borrowed time.
The picture above is February 13, 2009 we arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska to spend the weekend with Chris and his unit. It was a time for families to get to see their soldiers, a time for the soldiers to rest and renew before heading off to Indiana to do a pre-mobilization. There would be one more four day pass before deployment and at the time none of us knew when it would be exactly. The night before we drove to Lincoln, the one thing I had hoped wouldn't happen, occurred. The stomach bug Sarah and I had both had earlier in the week caught up with Lizzie and Beka. But come hell or high water we were getting into the van the next day and driving to Nebraska. At the time I didn't know there were would be another four day pass, so I wanted to be sure we all got to spend some time with Chris before he deployed. Thankfully, both girls were finished throwing up before we left, but Beka was the last one to get it, so Sarah and I had been up until 2 a.m. the night before working together to wash and dry sheets, keep Beka cool, calm and happy - if that is possible when you 22 month old is sick and has an unhappy tummy. She threw up once in the van on the way there, then seemed to feel a little bit better and kept improving. We arrived at our hotel, and Chris was starving so we went to Cracker Barrel. Beka couldn't eat and only sipped on her Sprite, until Daddy took her in his arms and she fell asleep and I had to grab a photo. Even in the picture you can tell she means the world to him - all of his girls mean the world to him, but here, Beka is sick and doesn't feel good and all he cares about is helping her feel better.
As an infant sleeping in our room, Beka's favorite place to sleep was on Daddy's chest - okay it was his favorite place for her to sleep as well. It helped them bond and that bond hasn't died. But I will never forget the day when he told me he had a dream. He was in Kuwait, and in his dream he was snuggling Beka, but could hear her calling out to him, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy." And his fellow bunk mates woke him up because he was calling out, "Bekaboo!" I sat and sobbed in front of the monitor, because I knew it was killing him to be gone from us, and that the girls were not doing well either. Beka would look out the front door and call for him asking him where he was and while knowing he was missing us so much should have comforted me, it ripped both our hearts out to have him so far away.
We survived that deployment and as of May 10, 2012 Chris is retired from the Army Reserves. No more deployments, but the memory of our time away from Chris are with us. Lizzie is the only one who has lived with us during two deployments, 2004 and 2009. And each time she ran joyfully to Chris when he returned. Sarah joined her in 2009. Beka true to what they warned about took a few moments, but they have been like peas and carrots ever since. I think it took a whopping two minutes before she was, HEY! That's my DADDY! She hasn't left his side unless absolutely necessary since then.
It works, he takes on Beka and I take on Lizzie, it seems to be a good system. Beka is Chris' head cheerleader. She is the one who gives the rally cry, "Daddy is leaving, it's time to say goodbye to Daddy!!!!" She even goes to our bedroom window so she can wave him off crying out, "Bye Daddy! Bye!" Blowing him kisses.
Today is Memorial Daddy. . . our family is among those who were fortunate enough to see our soldier return home to them, changed, but home nonetheless. But so many others did not make it home, some were never found or they were so devastated there was nothing to return from their time overseas. So please be sure to thank your soldier today. . . their sacrifice is greater than you can imagine.
Have a good week.