It’s time to say goodbye.
I don’t want to. I really don’t want to.
I want him to stay here forever. Stay with me forever. But that’s not how military life works.
It’s time to say goodbye and I need to be strong. For him. For my kids.
We drive up to the gate. That horrible gate. The one he will walk through after we say our goodbyes.
My tears start to flow, but still, I try to hold them back. He hugs me as he gets out of the car. This is it. This is really happening.
I have been here before. I have done this before. This isn’t new.
And yet, it feels new. It feels just like it did the first time he had to go so many years ago.
He grabs his bag, I grab my boys. We don’t want to draw this out.
He puts his bag where it needs to go and comes back to us. We can stay. We can wait until it is time for him to go. But we decide not to.
We say goodbye then. Knowing the extra hour or two might just drag this out. We say goodbye and then we let go.
I give him that last hug and that last kiss and that last goodbye. He hugs and kisses the boys. And kisses me one last time.
And I tell him what I always tell him, “come back to me,” and he says what he always says, “I will, I always will.”
And so I grab the boys and we get in the car. We have said goodbye. We have kissed and hugged that one last time.
And I leave him there, this man I love so much. The one I married and wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Unsure about what the next few months would bring.
As I get the boys in the car, I tell them that we got this and we are going to have an adventure when their dad is gone.
That we will make this time apart fun for them and that the days might be hard at times, we will get through it. I am not sure if they totally understand what I am saying. They are so young but I tell them it will all be okay because I feel like they need to hear it. I feel like I need to say it.
And so we head back home, me trying to keep it together. It’s day 1. The first day of deployment.
It’s day one and the countdown can begin. It’s day one and I know the day will be hard.
And as time moves on, as it always does, I look back on that day and how hard it was to say goodbye.
Saying goodbye to the man I love, as he heads off to war. Saying goodbye as he heads off to a dangerous place. Saying goodbye as we start this next deployment.
And even through the goodbyes are so hard, time passes and we get through the deployment. Homecoming comes, and we see him again. A little stronger than we were before.
We know there could be more deployments in the future, we know that we will have to say goodbye again. But as military spouses, we know we can get through what military life brings us, one day at a time.