My focus over the last two weeks has been on family. My absolute-number-one-nothing-else-matters focus has been on the four of us. And of course so much of that was because this time - this Christmas season - was beyond important for the four of us to have together.
I loved this Christmas. I loved that we shared the joy together. I love that C was here to hand the boys their presents and struggle with them through mass while I sang (HE may not have enjoyed that) and that we shared every moment of a perfectly simple day with just us. I am so very, very grateful that we were given this time.
But what brought that focus in the most, what made me hold C's hand tighter and take more pictures and try my hardest to remember each detail is because days before leave began our 'timer' reset.
It feels like he just got home.
My heart has been beyond heavy. I knew this was coming. I knew it.
I knew it. I knew it. I knew it.
But it's when the words are spoken for the first time - with actual timelines and plans and schedules. It's when it is released to the soldiers. When they go home to tell their families.
It's when it becomes real.
When every moment suddenly becomes counted, fleeting, sinking through your fingers. The world stops for just a moment.
You forget how to breathe.
Here you are again. At the beginning of an end - knowing how quickly time goes by. Knowing that every next day is one day closer.
God, give me strength.
"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.