It was finally THE day, the day I had been dreading since that previous February. I don't think I slept hardly at all the night before. I just laid in his arms trying to remember how it felt, his smell, and everything about him, so I could carry that with me through the next lonely year. That morning we got up, took Little L to stay with M's parents so we could go to breakfast together alone. I really appreciated the fact that we could do this. I know M LOVES spending time with Little L, but I needed some one on one time with him before he left. We went to breakfast, then hung out until it was time to drop him off with the unit. I needed to go back to the hotel room to shower and get ready. We packed everyone up and headed to the unit for the ceremony. When we got there we were told that the time they were supposed to have to be with families might be taken away because some stupid people decided to go out and get drunk the night before and showed up late that morning. Thankfully, they didn't take all of it away from us. I believe enough families complained about it. Once we got to the unit we found our seats out in the HOT sun and waited for everything to start. I tell you what, seeing all of those men in their uniforms, standing in formation is just amazing. Knowing they were leaving to go to war just makes you so proud, yet you just want to fall to your knees, crying and begging them not to go. I really think the heat helped keep me from breaking down. They decided to set up the ceremony in the parking lot. I'm not kidding it was HOT, there was no breeze and hardly a cloud in the sky. The chaplain, the previous CO, and the current CO all spoke. Thankfully they made it quick.
|M and Little L while we were waiting|
I swear those three hours went by SOOOO quickly! We loaded all of his stuff in the car, and drove the short 10 mins to the unit. He placed his bags in his platoons spot and I finally convinced him to take a family picture. He hates getting his picture taken and to this day he hates the way he looks in the picture, but I needed it. I needed to be able to see us as a family, even though we were going to be separated by thousands of miles.
We hung out and waited some more at the unit. It was starting to get dark. All of the kids were running around, having a great time, either unaware of what was happening or trying to ignore it. I was trying with everything I had to not break down. I know I was very quiet during this time. I was afraid if I opened my mouth I would just lose it. It was finally dark, I'm not sure what time it was because I wasn't watching the clock, but of course time was passing too quickly. Some families started to leave, not wanting to stay to see the buses leave. The men were given the half hour warning of when they had to board the buses. It was at this time that M said we needed to leave. He didn't want me staying to watch the buses leave. He had work to do, and was afraid it would be too hard on all of us. So, we said our "see you laters". I don't think I ever cried so much in my entire life. He promised to be safe and to come home to us. I held on to him as long and as hard as I could. I know Little L didn't understand what was going on. He has seen daddy put his uniform on, leave and come home, he didn't understand that it would be MONTHS before we would see each other again.
Watching your husband, in uniform, walk away from you has to be one of the hardest things I will ever do. Knowing he is going to a place where they are actively trying to hurt and kill people, plus the job he has been assigned will make your heart just stop. It takes the breath right out of you. On one hand, you are so very proud that he, and the others are so willing to put their lives on the line for the freedom of our country. But on the other hand you want to just grab a hold of them and never let them go. Going back to the hotel room alone that night was horrible, actually horrible isn't the word for it, but I cannot think of a word to adequately explain that feeling you have when you realize they are gone, they are gone and not coming back in a week, month or two, but a year. I felt so alone, I felt like no one knew exactly what I was feeling, even though my in-laws were there, it's different when it's your husband who is leaving. I really can't explain it, but it's just different. I am so proud of my husband and I know this day wasn't easy on him either. Leaving everything you know and love behind to go to a foreign country to fight a war has to be extremely hard. I pray daily that he is safe and will come home to us soon. He is my hero and I love him with my whole heart! But I will never forget the feelings that I felt that day. This day will forever be burned into my memory.