"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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Tears flow just as I expected. I knew this was coming, I knew exactly what it would be like, and the tears came anyway. It was just a photo - uploaded from a phone to a website like any other day. A daddy and a daughter. Anyone who didn't know any better wouldn't think anything more. A daddy held his little girl - a daddy held his little girl for the first time in nearly seven months. The same little girl he heard cry through the speaker of a phone as she entered into this world. He listened from the battlefield 7000 miles away - two years earlier. The same little girl who had just had a birthday. And he was holding her, in the Nashville airport, surrounded by so many people who have become indifferent to moments as beautiful of these - he held his little girl. And the tears continued to fall.

This wasn't my soldier. This wasn't my child. And that didn't matter. We never become numb to these moments.


I asked for it. I did. I wanted to add pictures to the page - beautiful pictures that would express what my words couldn't. And goodness did they come. A few homecomings - the joy is always incredible. I believe that everyone should see - in person - a welcome home. There is nothing more infectiously joyous than those days. The reunions truly are like nothing else in this world - but that isn't when the tears started.

It was the last link - the one that said "Farewell" - that opened the door for that. And it was not simply sadness. I don't think anyone can understand this difference if they haven't felt it. If you just saw me you may interpret it as only sadness - maybe even agony with how much the tears flowed. No - it was not sadness. There was such incredible beauty in these images - of the gear so perfectly stacked in the straightest of rows. The images of the backs of families having last pictures taken. Of the soldiers - making me want to know so badly what was going through each of their minds. And you think how many fathers do those piles of gear belong to, and mothers, and daughters, and sons, and wives and husbands. How many do they each leave behind. And you see the weapons strapped to their bodies that become their lifelines, the heavy plates that they strap across their chests, the solid helmet that makes them all look the same. And while this is common place for those who wear these items and to those who watch them march away - it isn't "common". Something common couldn't evoke such emotion - and it does for those who love a soldier - it will every single time a video is shared of a child running to hug his daddy, or when a photo shows a mother kissing her baby girl for the last time in a long time. Every single time it will bring tears to my eyes.

But please do not take this for just sadness. I am so very proud and so very grateful to those who have the strength to kiss us goodbye and put on that helmet and strap on that vest and pick up their arms. Every tear that falls is indeed heartache - but it isn't a heartache you understand unless you live this. There is blood-curdling fear. Heart-wrenching dread. Overbearing stress. Of course we hold these things. But there is a beauty in the heartache when you realize how much love we must hold - love for a man or woman who will leave us (repeatedly). Love that must and will strengthen us for the journey. Pride that will give us chills, goosebumps, put a lump in our throat in the most challenging of moments. And it isn't just our love that must fit here. We carry their love for their families while they take with them their love for this country. Our hearts hurt because they hold so much. Of course we ache. Of course I will cry - not just for my soldier but for yours too.

There is so much love. There is so much beauty. There is so much pride.

Amazing what the heart can hold.

And our hearts will hold it all.


  1. There's definitely pride, but... I have to say. Each time Mark deployed I felt uncontrollable grief. There's no other word. Pure grief. I couldn't get to the pride of it for a while.

    And when I saw those photos on facebook of the gear stacked, I thought it looked ominous. Foreboding. And it jolted me back to the moments where I had to see my own husband's gear like that. It frankly scares the shit out of me.

    But I definitely feel the uncontrollable pride when I see other folks simply because I don't have to wade through chin deep grief.

  2. Oh and that's not to be an insult to the photographer. She captured a real moment and gave me real feelings.

  3. It is very ominous - absolutely! And there is grief - but to me - it all combines and it makes the heart feel like it will burst. There is a sadness. What I was trying to say is that this sadness is not what people who aren't in our shoes interpret it as. Because it isn't JUST sadness ... there are so many other parts to it. And you know how I feel about fear - goodness, there is always fear.

    Thanks, Sara!

  4. Where are these photos? I am nearly through Week 3 (feels like that should be a bigger number), and it surprises me how quickly and Army Wife can adapt. By "adapt," I don't mean no longer miss her husband. I mean, ajust, continue mission. I still have rough moments that I have to forge through. Images and emotions from that hellish morning he left still roll through my mind. But, I remind myself that, with the heartache of leaving, God willing his homecoming eventually follows.

  5. This is YouTube video first started circulation about the time my husband was deployed last July. Eight months later, I still watch it whenever I need to be reminded that happy endings are coming. After my husband had been gone about 6 months, my little boy started to believe that Daddy was never coming back. We watch it together every now and then to remind him that his Daddy is in fact coming home. Make sure you watch it with a box of Kleenex.


  6. Oh, Lorena! I have seen this video a COUNTLESS number of times. It is absolutely beautiful and I break down every time! Thank you for sharing it. Good times are coming!

  7. Adrienne, I missed your comment! Sorry!! They are on the FB fanpage. The first photo I talked about isn't there - it is a friends. But the ones that Sara rightfully called "ominous" are on the FB page. They are both difficult and very beautiful to me - but goodness the entire album (if you scroll through the FB wall you will find the link) made me cry.

  8. The farewells have never been easy for me to photograph. But I feel like I owe it to other spouses who want to remember that feeling. I cry at every single one. Tears cover my viewfinder by the time I am done. Even when it's not my own soldier. I don't do it because I want to. I do it because I need to. Why would you want to remember such pain? I can't explain it, but it is because of pride that these ladies ask me to document those moments. And I will do it until we have no more war.

  9. Thank you so very much, Paige. It is a need - and that is what I was trying to explain but there just isn't a way. It is only something that can be felt.

    My best friend took a picture of C kissing my forehead and of the tears falling down my face moments before we walked away from each other. We were holding our two little boys together for the last time in a long time. I looked horrible - it is the most painful image I think anyone in this life can see. And I shared it - I would NEVER usually show a picture of myself like that. But there is something beautiful about the MANY things that exist in those moments - so much sadness, so much fear, so much acceptance at the same time. So much gratitude that I love a man that would give his life for a stranger. So much pride in that sacrifice and that he chose me. There aren't any words - and that is why the pictures are necessary. Because sometimes there just aren't words.

  10. You put into words exactly how I'm feeling lately. We are Army reserves so I don't have a lot of people around here who understand how I feel. They try, but it's just not possible if you aren't in this position. We haven't had our goodbye yet, but it's coming soon and I'm dreading it. It's such a complicated medley of emotions!
    Anyway, nice to stumble upon your blog - I'll be following :)

  11. Thank you so very much for your kind words! I will be thinking of your family in this difficult time. I have heard from several reserve and guard spouses who say the same things. You just inspired me to add another category to my "guest blogs" tab!! I look forward to checking out yours!


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