My husband pulled his socks on, only to look up to find our 2-year-old son dragging his boots across the room to him.
“Daddy. Shoes! Here go!” He said enthusiastically. My husband smiled, accepted the boots, and scooped our son up into a hug, breathing in his scent and holding on to him tight.
“Thank you, buddy,” he said. “You’re such a big help. I love you so much.” Our son smiled and straightened his green hat which featured the backward American flag and his daddy’s Velcro nametape on the back—a hat that was his most prized possession.
I watched the scene before me, tearing up as I watched the pair together. My husband looked up at me and smiled, reaching out to pull me into a hug as well.
Within a few minutes we were walking to the door, hand-in-hand, with three pairs of feet running behind us, a baby in my arms.
As soon as we reached the front door my son melted into a ball of despair on the floor; he didn’t want his daddy to leave. Our oldest, our 4-year-old, patted her brother on the head, “It’s OK, Bubba. Daddy always comes back.”
My husband started tearing up as he hugged our four children goodbye.
“Yes, baby. Daddy always comes back. I promise. No matter what, I will always come back.”
And then he left us.
This time it was just for a weekend. Next time, maybe for a year. But I can’t worry about that right now. All I can do is hold on to the promise he makes every time he walks out that door to serve his country.
I am full of worry while he is away, even for the weekend. There are so many dangers left unsaid.
But I’m proud of him—oh, am I proud.
I’m also thankful; not just because he has chosen to switch into combat boots on the weekends and when he is called to deploy, but because it gives me perspective.
You see, I know the importance. I know the importance of that kiss goodbye. I know the importance of telling your spouse you love them. I know each and every time he walks out the door, no matter the reason, there is a chance it will be my last time to tell him how much he means to me.
It reminds me I shouldn’t hold on to anger.
I shouldn’t let the pettiness get in the way of a good day.
I shouldn’t take any time with anyone for granted.
This perspective is one of gratitude, of living my life with a grateful heart and a knowledge that my last words, to anyone, will never be ones I regret.
I will walk my husband to that door every time, and I will send him off with a reason to come home, a purpose, something to fight for.
So I will wait faithfully for him to come home. I always will. Because, like he said, he will always come back. And that is the most important promise he will ever make.
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