You may remember the paper chain that we made last year while Jarrod was in Afghanistan. We put it up a little over a month before Jarrod got home, and it was mostly for me since the kids were really too young to understand.
Fast forward to this year, and Jarrod is deployed again – this time on an aircraft carrier. Jarrod was in Texas for my brother’s wedding, and then flew back here to Virginia to deploy with the ship. The kids and I stayed in Texas for a little while with my parents, but when we got back here, we immediately got to work on a new countdown chain.
And it was three and a half loops around the shelf.
Charlotte is still a little young to understand, but I explained to Trenton that we would take a link off of the chain each night before bed. When all of the links were gone, Daddy would come home.
He looked up at the shelf one morning last week while he was eating breakfast and exclaimed, “There almost no more links. Daddy be home soon!”
Yes, we are getting closer. Trenton is so ready for his Daddy to be home. On Sunday as we were parking the car at church he told me, “When all the links gone, Daddy come home and come to church with us. He drive and you sit right here.” He was pointing to the passenger seat. He also wants Daddy to take him to preschool, the museum, and on the “big ship.”
Charlotte misses Daddy too, but she doesn’t understand the concept of time or that we are getting closer to him coming home. That doesn’t stop her from walking around the house showing me every picture of Daddy that she can find!
It’s amazing to see a deployment through a child’s eyes. It is hard to see a child miss their parent, but it also gives you strength to see how hopeful and excited they are that their parent will return.
Our friend Jacob has been in Afghanistan since the spring and is currently on his way home. His wife Beth wrote this yesterday.
For the first time in eight months, I broke down today and cried.
You would think dropping Jacob off at the airport would have started the water-works, but I drove home dry eyed that day in March. At little William's delivery? I was all smiles (at least after the epidural!). For months now, every time Sarah Noelle would wave to the planes passing overhead, yelling "I love you Dada!", I would simply wave, too.
How do you convey so abstract a concept as time to a two year old child? I told her, "Daddy will be home a little while after Halloween, before Christmas."
I'm not sure how much that meant to her, but she listened, and the first time she spoke with Jacob via web- cam, she said, "Christmas Tree?"
As the weeks quickly added into months, her speech improved, and she would tell me, "Daddy will come home when it's Christmas, and he will get me a Christmas Tree!"
With the typical relentless obsessiveness of a child her age, she clung to this idea, and whenever we mentioned her father's home-coming, she would bring up the Christmas Tree.
November has finally arrived! TODAY Jacob's plane departs the Middle East, headed for the United States of America!!! Needless to say, I have a lot of preparations to make, so this morning I went to the store with the children for supplies; I even had a list.
As I was staring down at the list in my hand, Sarah Noelle started asking excitedly, "Mommy, I can go over there?"
I told her okay, and she ran across the aisle as I watched. Off of the shelf she grabbed a two-foot tall, wire Christmas Tree, all covered in sparkly gold glitter.
"Mommy, Mommy, LOOK!" she yelled. "It is Christmas now! Dada can come home!"
And that is when I started to cry. The sight of Sarah Noelle clutching that tree, grinning up at me, shedding golden glitter all over the floor; the knowledge that Jacob IS finally on his way home really hit me, and almost took my breath away.
"Mommy, you hurt?" she asked me.
I tried to explain that sometimes people cry when they are happy.
She tilted her head, and mirrored back one of my own expressions, the one that asks if someone has lost their mind. Shaking her head, she told me, "Mommy, you so silly!"
Perhaps I am silly. I am also excited, giddy, and ridiculously happy. Jacob will be home soon! And guess what? This one year, we are going to put up our Christmas Tree early.
We are so glad that this family will soon be reunited and that Jacob will get to meet his son!
I am looking forward to taking that last link off the chain with Trenton. And at that point, when I can say “Daddy is coming home today," I’m sure Charlotte will understand too and be just as excited as her big brother – and their mommy!