The living room of our very small and very temporary apartment has exploded with Army green and ACU print. Rope, empty magazines, camelbacks, bundled socks, uniforms and a host of other items with the same, familiar print are laid out in an ordered chaos on the carpet of this dated apartment. I move one of three pairs of boots to place our youngest son's bouncer in the midst of the green. He, Eli, just turned 5 months old. Our oldest son, Logan, who is just over two, is following my husband around trying to "help". I am following behind him, removing the pacifiers and goldfish crackers he feels should join his Daddy in Afghanistan for the next year. I strap C's giant ruck around Logan and he laughs but won't hold still for a picture. The not yet full bag is taller than him and heavier. He is only amused for a few moments. Very much a two-year-old.
Amazingly, or maybe not so amazingly, I haven't cried yet today. I decided to invest in some decent waterproof mascara because over the last few weeks hot tears seem to sneak up out of nowhere, for no reason, and often with no words to explain them.
I try to think about this past year. Not about how much has happened within that 12 month period - that provides no comfort. To think about how many events have happened in that period of time makes the tears flow all to quickly. I try to think about the speed by which it passed. We lived in four different states - both seperately and together - and it went by so very fast. I do this to try to convince myself that this next year will go by as the past one did, and as his first deployment went. But then I find myself in a mental trap; the events within that year that hold so much importance cannot escape my thoughts. Logan's first "I love you's", pregnancy, Eli's birth, first smiles, all those first baby milestones that parents ooh and ahh over. There is so much more that will happen this next year - that I will try like hell to find a way to make him part of. And I think about what he will miss and my heart overflows. The tears come.
So I return to the present, to the little boy wearing his Daddy's work watch around his tiny wrist and to the even littlier boy asleep in my arms. We have this small moment, right now, when we are all together. So I smile as Logan unfolds the many acu's that had been neatly folded before C notices. And I laugh to myself as Logan hands him an unfolded jacket and reveals the flattened, mess of a pile.
This is our life - a life I love - a life I willingly took on. Tomorrow will be difficult, and the next day, and the next. But Today will be one of the many moments that will help me through until the "tomorrow" that he comes home.
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.