Davis is doing his typical form of adjusting and that means lots of discipline, several spankings, sneaking downstairs after bedtime, testing his limits and my authority, blatant disobedience, stealing toys from Ronin, and the list goes on. However, in the midst of all his rebellion, Davis has moments of poignant sensitivity; when he detects that I am sad, he is quick to comfort me. Ronin is still his typical self: laid back, always seeking adventure (without caution), but now he is ecstatic to see Kevin on TV reading a story.
At 4:43am, Kevin called. He will be heading out soon to start patrolling again. We had a wonderful conversation, and it wasn't until after we hung up that I realized it is exactly that: the disconnect, that creates the ache for all of us. Eighteen days was enough. Enough to settle into what is normal: waking up together, eating together, talking together, laughing together, playing together, sleeping together, everything together. And in a moment at the airport, it's just like hanging up the phone. Family (and even more so, marriage) is so much like a constant conversation that separation breaks apart. There is still union and cohesion, but it is strained and a challenge to maintain.
So, we pick up the journey again of staying connected despite the disconnect.
Today, when he woke up, he quickly let me know he wanted down by leaning over to the point he almost falls out of my grasp and saying, "Down, down, down." I usually shut all the upstairs doors as we head downstairs, so they were all still open. Ronin rushed into our room, looked at the bed, and said, "Da-da?" A brief pause, then again, "Da-da?" That's where he had met Kevin most mornings that we were home, but not this one.
In that moment, my heart swelled, how can sorrow and joy mingle so easily? I miss my husband, and the boys miss their Daddy, yet in the same breath, I am overjoyed to know even our littlest is aware of his absence.
Early this morning (4:45 am) we took Kevin to the airport to say goodbye, again. This time only for three months (give or take). Davis attempted to make himself feel better, he said to me in the car, "Maybe something silly will make me happy" and then he started spouting off nonsense words and we shared a soft giggle, but then he said, "No, silly things aren't making me happy, I just want Daddy."
I shared the sentiment, and later when I saw Ronin instinctually grab his brother's hand for help, I prayed that I would be the same. Not just today, but as I walk through life when I know I can't make it down a steep step, I hope that I will instinctually reach out and grab a hand for help. Sometimes it means you won't fall, but sometimes it means you fall together.
A wonderful and gracious friend has watched our boys twice already and she noticed that Davis was incredibly well-behaved (even better than normal). The second time was even more obvious. She hesitated telling me at first, because she didn't want to dishearten me. However, it did quite the opposite. His behavior is a direct result of Kevin being home.
Kevin had to spank Davis once: for outright defiance, Davis was anticipating only having Daddy as a pal and not as an authority while he was home. It fills me with joy to know that nearness to his Father produces in him better behavior. I'm sure you can already see the parallel, right? We are the same with our Father in Heaven, time with Him, nearness to Him produces in us right living.
Davis will no doubt go through another difficult season once Kevin returns to Iraq, and I'm not excited about that, but we are making plenty of joyful memories to hold onto through the next three and a half months.
In the end, we had to take the boots off so he could put his jeans on and the boots back on and he put on his shirt too.
And there you have it, our little buckaroo. He was so excited about the whole thing he had to go show our neighbor, who shared in the excitement and put on his own cowboy hat that Reagan gave him.
This one is just for fun, because I like it.
Then, I found the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, which gives extensive lists and graphs for the casulaties and fatalities of the Iraq War. I was trying to find something that was accurate and comprehensive, and it was there, complete with names, dates, causes of death, and the places they died. Names have faces and faces have families. As I scrolled slowly down the list I wondered what they tell us in the heat of this political mess. But they can't speak, instead, thousands of others will take the liberty they paid for with their lives to talk about the war, to ridicule it, to blame our leaders for it, to say it's unnecessary, or we shouldn't even be there, and on and on. Making a mockery of their service and at the same time making it harder and harder for those still on the ground, still risking their lives, still trying to protect the lives of innocent Iraqi citizens. But too many of us can't see beyond the small scope of our own individual lives and consequently we don't foresee the reprucussions of the things we say or do.
This calendar has been on our wall for 9 months now. We have faithfully marked off the days, and now, there are so few until Kevin finally comes home (for leave, 18 days, then he goes back). We have actually been apart now for 10 months because he was gone all of December (and that's not included on the calendar), which means we are just 2 months shy of a year.
Many people say to us, "I don't know how you do it." My response is usually, "I don't either." But if I'm really honest, it's the grace of God. Because of who He is, we can have peace despite the many challenges that come with deployments. Right now, looking back, it seems incredibly overwhelming, yet we're here--and we're all still mentally stable! In fact, our marriage has grown, our dependency on Christ to meet our needs has been strengthened, and my trust in Jesus to take care of Kevin, me, and our boys is deeper than it has ever been.