Saying Good-Bye

sayinggoodbye

good-bye hugs, as Alan departed for Afghanistan, for 6 months, 2011

from my Xanga series

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Fall 2011

We had such a good time with Jennings here! That girl cleaned like crazy. She must’ve run about 7 loads of laundry and 3 loads of dishes. She vacuumed, she straightened, and she even babysat. Now you don’t get too many friends like that in life! And I didn’t ask her to do any of it. It wasn’t all work. We also went to an apple farm to pick apples. Unfortunately, the apples were too picked over, so we settled for picking a couple of pumpkins instead. Plus, we stayed up late talking both nights, which is always fun.

Joshua came in here a while ago to tell on Caleb b/c he “wasn’t doing what I (Joshua) told him to!” Oh wow. I fully re-explained to Joshua that even if he is in charge of the game he’s playing, Caleb does not have to do what he says, as he is just his brother, not his elder. Now I hear them in there going through every single one of their books, and it will be a mess to clean up, but who cares. That’s what toys are for, and it is keeping them quiet!! It’s kind of funny how protective they are of books around Daniel. They have that old mentality of not letting the baby hold any books b/c he might mess it up. They love the Green Eggs and Ham board book Nonna and DaddyO brought Daniel, but they won’t let him hold it b/c “he will mess it up!” Soooo…… in the car they read the book to Daniel and show him the pictures. He only gets to hold the book when they’re not around to insist on holding it for him!

The boys are SO HAPPY that we’re going to Disney World when Daddy gets back in April. They talk about it a lot. Joshua said, “I’ve never been there before!” Oy. All that time and money, and they don’t even remember it. Actually, if it didn’t happen last year, they don’t remember it. It’s funny how you pour so much into those years, and they can’t remember it. But it’s all building blocks and brain development, so the time was not wasted, of course.

Joshua just said, “If I’d done something really really bad at school, I would turn my card to yellow.” (Their conduct system) Joshua is so well behaved at school. He had that one day that he got a “yellow bear”, and I told him that that was not good, and he needs to always have orange. Ever since, he always gets orange, and he seems to be on the good side of his teachers. Now Joshua’s explaining SOAR cards to Caleb. That’s what they get when the teacher thinks they’re being especially good. Joshua told me earlier that he got TWO of them today. I asked him what he did to get them, and he said he couldn’t remember. Joshua just told Caleb, “I got a SOAR card b/c I’ve been really really good. I’ve been listening to rules.” I think it’s so precious how much Joshua loves school. He really loves it! There was one day Joshua said he got a SOAR card b/c he helped Abell pick up all the stuff he’d dropped. I’m always so excited when he tell me details like that! Today Joshua said he was sad b/c Andrew didn’t play with him. I guess now he knows how certain friends of his feel when Joshua doesn’t play with them! He also told me that they got new seats at school, but he’s still at the same table, just a different chair. He’s sitting by Zoe, Mikey, and someone he didn’t know. How cool that he gets to sit by his friends! (Zoe is our neighbor, and Mikey is his friend too.)

I finally got to have a real phone conversation with Alan today. Praise the Lord for that! There’s a HUGE time difference, plus it’s very primitive over there, so those things haven’t been good for communication! It’s still better than it was in 2003, when he went to Iraq, and of course way better than the wars of times past! It is so much easier when you can say with certainty that as of 8pm yesterday, you know you’re husband was alive and well! And Alan did sound very well! He was getting a LOT done, and that always makes him happy, so that’s really good.

What Being a Military Family Means

 

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It’s tempting to think that being a military family means moving a lot, long term separations, being tough, hanging the American flag, and feeling honored on Veteran’s Day. We are the patriots. We make the sacrifices. Go us.

But you know what? It’s not about that, not really. It’s really all about freedom and protecting that freedom. It’s about being there when your country needs you. It’s about doing things other people do not want to do–doing things I don’t want to do either. And sometimes we all know that we may not have tomorrow. Every military spouse or parent lives with that fear– that feeling of driving home, seeing a strange car in your driveway, while your service member is away at war, and you think, “Oh, God, please don’t let that be a casualty officer.”

This morning Alan got a text message from our friend Max, telling him that Major General Greene was killed in Afghanistan.  This all happened on Tuesday, and I just hated getting this news. For more information, you can visit this page:

Major General Greene obituary

Alan worked for General Greene during our DC years and in Afghanistan, and he was an excellent person, boss, family man, and military officer. This is a great loss to his family and to our country. Alan said he was the kind of general that actually came out and played dodgeball with his team at the Pentagon. He even called Alan, when Alan was in Afghanistan, on Thanksgiving Day, to thank him for what he was doing.

When a death like this happens, it reminds us of the reality of our situation. There is no “safe place” in a combat zone. Any time we send someone over there, the risks are great. Our service men and women sign up knowing the risks. We families know them as well. Still, the news is hard to take.

It’s important to enjoy the fun and the glory that the military life does bring. Enjoy the good times while they are good. We got married straight out of college, in 2002, in over our heads in the aftermath of 9/11. I had no idea back then what patriotism meant. I never dreamed of all the things my family would be called upon to do. The things that have gone on politically ever since have always hit us so close to home that I really couldn’t even form an un-biased opinion on any of it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to think of issues like the ongoing Middle East crisis and terrorism as “What’s best for our country?” and not “Oh no. Will this send Alan overseas?” But of course, if we don’t fight terrorism, terrorism will show up at our door. Sometimes we are quick to forget what started this war in the first place.

But I can’t write talking points on the war. I quit watching the news in 2009, during Alan’s second long tour in Iraq, when Joshua started seeing footage on t.v., and I just couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t watch it, and I couldn’t stand to have my little bitty boys hear it. I didn’t want them to worry.

Yesterday morning I picked up a copy of an actual newspaper from the hotel lobby. At eight and seven years old, I think it’s time for them to begin to “get it.”  No, the world isn’t a “safe” place. It never has been. However, I do not want them to be ignorant. It grates my nerves when I see people on Facebook posting all of their uninformed opinions. I don’t want that to be my children. I want them to know why we have made the sacrifices that we have made. I want them to have a firm grip on reality.

Today our prayers are with the Greene family. This was a terrible loss for our country.