The ACU patterns have been taking over our living room, C's closet, and our garage for the last two weeks. It's all gone now.
The trunks have been put back, the supplies that were taking over the sofa, the kitchen table, every open space, are packed into a ruck sitting in a row beside rucks and bags that all look the same. His boots are gone.
To me this month is easy. Doable. Nothing in comparison to what we have lived through and what we can always face again. But to Logan ...
He knew what that ACU splatter meant. He knew what seeing it packed into a ruck over a few days meant. He knew that when I had him put shoes on with his PJ's tonight ... he knew his daddy was going away for a while.
He grabbed onto C and begged him not to go. He said families are supposed to "stay together," and then that he couldn't go without him. That he "would be a soldier too" so that he could go with him. He tried to pick up the smaller ACU print bag to carry as his own.
It was heart-warming and heart-breaking all at the same time. Gosh that kid loves his dad.
I have said before that to see your child's pain, to see that hurt you feel in yourself in the eyes of your child, may be one of the hardest parts of all this. I can take my own hurt. I can handle the sadness and the fear and the unknowns but when you can see your child battling those same things ... well that suffocates the heart.
To watch C watch Logan ... to want to take away the pain he must feel when he walks away knowing he is hurting his child, his buddy, his "favorite batman," that touches to the pit of all you are.
"But I. don't. want. him. to go!" he says, arms crossed in his car seat.
"I know, boogah. I know. Me too." How do you explain it to a child? How do you explain how a father can be an incredible father and walk away at the same time? He loves him so much. "He needs to go with his Soldiers."
"I can be his soldier," he says while wiping his eyes, the anger has turned to sadness.
"You would be an excellent soldier, Logan," knife to the heart. To be an Army mom ... God, give me strength ... "But, you need to go to kindergarten first."
"I need you to help me with something important."
"Hmmph," he grunts while crossing his arms across his chest again.
"It's for Daddy," I add.
"What is it?" He says, raising his chin. He's interested now.
"We need to bake him a cake."
"Wwwwwhhhaaatttt?" He asks confused.
"Daddy's birthday is in two weeks. We need to bake him a cake." Finally, he's looking at me.
"But how will he eat it?" his arms are up and out, shoulders raised.
"We'll send it to him."
"We will??" He's shocked.
"Yep. We can mail it! And guess what?"
"What?" I think I hear a little excitement in his voice. I think ...
"You get a piece too."
"And Eli. You can each have a piece, we'll do a video of 'Happy Birthday' and send it to Daddy! Sound good?" maybe said a little too hopeful.
"Chocolate cake?" his palms are together and he's touching his fingers back and forth.
"Great plan, Mommy!!" Thank you, Dear Lord!
I know tomorrow morning he is going to ask for C. I know it. I know in the next month he will ask again and again. There will be tears. There will be anger. He will work through it and fight through it and I will hug him and hold him and love him all the way.
What C will carry on his back is nothing in comparison to what he carries in his heart but I hope that the tiny items put into his pocket will help to lighten the load - Logan's toy plane and a tiny, tiny green Percy Train (Eli's favorite). I know there isn't a step he takes without them being who he thinks of. I know there isn't a moment away that he doesn't wish to hold their hands and fly airplanes with Logan and trains with Eli.
I know that we are up for the trial, I know our children amaze us day in and day out, and I know He does not lead us where we cannot thrive.
Until those sandy boots sit just inside our door.