I watched as he bent down and kissed the little cheek of his baby girl one last time - she looked right at five or six months. I watched as his wife clung to that precious, little girl and kissed that same cheek as he walked away.
Her eyes found mine and I tried to offer a gentle smile. "My youngest was the same age the last time we said 'See you soon.'"
"Yeah?" she answered, beginning to blot away a few tears.
"Right at five months when his daddy left for a year," I shared. She nodded and kissed that bow-wearing head. "He ran right to him when he came home," I smiled.
"Thank you." she whispered as the tears came. "Thank you."
"Easy" (Eli) asks for C every morning. Every, single morning he says, "I miss daddy." The second day after C headed out, Eli walked around and around the house, and finally came to me and said he couldn't find daddy anywhere. I remember Logan doing the exact same thing last time. The exact same thing. The exact same innocence.
My heart aches for these kids.
Logan doesn't know how to say or express how he's feeling. He has such a hard time labeling his emotions, knowing how to respond to them. I want to hold him through it. I want to take the sadness and anger and so much hurt away. They adore their daddy. So much of their life - our life - isn't physically here.
On my weakest days, on my hardest days like today when all I want is his very presence ... when all I want is for him to be able to physically hold my hand when he reminds me that one day this won't hurt so much, on those days, on this day, I know the purpose, I understand the bigger picture. I know that someone must go and this is his job, his purpose, his honor to serve.
I know those things. I am honored every day to be his wife, to be beside him.
But our precious kiddos - their little hearts must be so strong to be raised in such a "bigger picture," to be asked to give so much of those tiny, tiny hearts for a nation.
I hope I can be enough. I hope I can teach them enough. I hope I can carry them enough.
For their tiny, strongest hearts, I must be enough.
"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.