She was confused for just a moment as she tried to process what she heard. "Megan, is someone ..."
"What?" I said down the steps.
"Oh!" she slightly gasped to herself. She had answered the question in her head that she never really finished asking. "I heard C's voice but it must be the bear. I was confused."
I could hear it through the door as well but I guess I had been hearing it for long enough that night that I didn't process what she had said at first. Logan had been pressing the hand of his teddy bear that played C telling him goodnight. He had been playing it over and over again for a while now. He was laying under his covers hugging his bear, pressing the tiny hand - repeatedly.
A while after the voice had stopped I quietly opened the bedroom door and peaked in. Hugging that bear he had fallen asleep. Next to him, tucked perfectly under the covers, was his "daddy doll".
I hadn't put it there.
Nearly everyday I am amazed at the tenacity of this child. And some of you may question my using that word for a two-year-old but I mean it. His ability and determination (and that is truly what I believe it is - a determination) to hold onto his daddy overwhelms my heart. It is almost as though he is keeping C present in his life. Of course we talk about him together daily and Logan has started talking to him on the phone more and more when it works, but it is as though Logan knows he needs to keep him present.
He left his floor pillow and his cartoons in my room and quickly walked though the connecting bathroom into his room. He returned quickly walking straight to Eli in the swing and pressed something to his face. From my angle I couldn't see exactly what he was doing. Eli started laughing and Logan looked up at me grinning, proud of himself for something.
"What are you doing, buh-ga?"
He pressed something to Eli again and his belly laugh made that same smile span Logan's face. Logan walked over to me and I saw the doll in his hand. He pressed it to my face and said, "Daddy Kisses." The same proud, accomplished smile brightened his face. He had made a connection - a connection that he knew was something to be proud of.
I hugged him close to me and he pressed the doll from his face to mine. "Daddy kisses," he said again.
Every night, when it is just me, the thought that fills my heart and my prayers oh-so often is "Please, dear Lord, let these children know their father." The thought encompasses the greatest pain and hope and desperation that there is no other option but for them to know this man that loves them with more intensity than I knew was possible.
My children amaze me. I am so very thankful for their kind hearts. What has touched Logan, what allows him to still grasp and want the image of his daddy present in his life is a blessing.
I fervently believe that in this life we will be given the strength for the journey. I intensely believe that every tool, and emotion, and pillar of support that is necessary to thrive in this life will be provided for us if we look for it. Logan, my two-year-old son, is one of those pillars. The absolute innocence and goodness within him overcomes the challenges of this deployment every single day. There is nothing more beautiful at this moment than what I have seen in that child.
The little one who purposely falls asleep to the sound of his daddy's voice and tucks his "daddy doll" into bed, the same little boy who thinks to give his little brother "daddy kisses" and then to pass them to me is a gift.
Along this most difficult path, we do not walk alone, we do not hurt on our own. In the face of the greatest separation a little boy provided another gift of strength in the simplest action, in the tiniest moment with the most innocent thought - with Daddy Kisses.
"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.