A soldier’s goodbye is hard

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By Staff
Nancy Blackmon is a
columnist for The
Andalusia Star News
Tom said goodbye to his sons the Monday morning, the day after Easter. It was emotional, but his twins didn’t understand because at just 6 months of age, they don’t quite grasp emotional yet. His wife, Maggie, who held her own emotions in check until that moment, felt the weight of that goodbye in her heart as she watched the man she loves kiss his babies.
Perhaps what made the moment even harder than most farewells is the fact that this loving couple prayed so long for the children that now fill their lives. The birth of the boys in late October 2008 was the realization of a dream that took years to come true. So Daddy leaving while that reality is still so new is kind of a bad dream.
Still, Maggie and Tom are looking for positives in all the emotions and holding on to each other and their love for the boys. It’s what people who live with the possibility of saying goodbye learn to do.
The departure is not easy on their friends and family either who know so well how much Tom wants to be at home with his wife and children. They promised to look after Maggie and to help her with the boys, and they did their best to keep their own emotions under control as they said their goodbyes over the weekend.
Of course, the separation isn’t forever, but that probably doesn’t make it any easier to get through that day when it becomes a reality, which is what happened on Monday. Laptops with webcams will keep the family linked in cyberspace.
Tom will be able to see his boys growing and doing all the wonderful and amazing things children do during their first year of life. He can see his wife’s face and she can see his — not quite the same as being together in person but better than total separation.
Hearing the story of Tom and Maggie from my daughter made me think of all the others like this couple who live with goodbyes and separations because they do something bigger than themselves, serve something they believe makes a difference for all of us.
Tuesday Tom woke up in Virginia, miles away from his family. In a few days, he will be in Georgia and Maggie and the boys will be able to visit him before the big goodbye comes near the end of April.
On that day, the twins won’t be there because one of the vaccinations Tom gets before he leaves requires that he not be around little ones. So Maggie will give him kisses for them and watch as he walks away knowing it will be months before they are all together again.
Yes, Tom, who is in the U.S. Air Force, said goodbye to his family Monday morning, and in a few weeks he will bid farewell to his home country as he heads for deployment in Iraq.
Whether we like the politics that are always part of every war, even if we don’t understand or agree with the reasons soldiers are where they are in the world, we support and pray for those, like Tom, who leave home and family to serve because it is what they do for the country they love.
And we celebrate with them when the separation is over and “goodbye” becomes “welcome home Daddy.”
Nancy Blackmon is a
columnist for The
Andalusia Star News.

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