48 hours ago I was home with my family in the middle of one of the nicest weekends anyone could ask for. 48 hours from now I will be on an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on my way to Kuwait.
Last week I spent Wednesday night to Sunday evening on pass at my home, with my family. It was four absolutely wonderful days.
Lisa brought TJ downstairs to find out who was behind the mysterious voice coming from the living room. TJ smiled and walked by me as if I had been downstairs the whole day long. It took him a day but he soon realized that the guy in the picture he kisses every night was the same guy picking him up. He got so big in such a short time that I wonder what the next ten months will bring. I will have to live vicariously through Lisa and the photos and video she sends me.
Lisa and I took the time we needed to connect. We went to dinner to our favorite places. We went for a run. We went shopping for TJ’s Halloween costume. We ran in the Pumpkin Fest 5k. We went to church. We hung out. She reminded me how lucky I am every day to have her as a friend, wife, and mother of my child. We reminded each other that we are strong enough to face the challenges that will come over the next year.
On Friday, we picked up Samantha from school and she took over the primary role of TJ’s favorite person in the family. She is involved in so many things at school that I have a hard time keeping up with all of her activities. Sam did great all weekend long until Sunday. Whether she tuned me out, mentally blocked the message, or didn’t understand – Samantha didn’t come to the full realization that I was leaving home until two hours before my ride arrived. In the last ten minutes the full weight of my departure hit her like a ton of bricks. Unfortunately, my daughter is also a bit of a drama queen. Fortunately, I missed her running down the street after the car and dousing herself in my cologne after I left.
My brother and his family came to town on Saturday. We cooked out, went to a football game (without the children, allowing my niece to babysit!), and had a great dinner together before coming back to the house for an outdoor fire.
The weather was nice and autumn was already present in Upstate New York. Everything about these last few precious days helped recharge my batteries for the next few days and will hopefully carry me for the next few months.
This afternoon we received the itinerary for our flight. We will be on a huge contracted commercial airplane flying from New Jersey to New York to Europe to Kuwait. It only took me a few seconds to realize that I would be spending my wedding anniversary on the plane; ugh. I also found out that all of the packing that I have already done needed to be un-done and packed over. There is not much left to do here except attend a farewell ceremony.
I am glad that we are leaving soon. Another group will be here until Saturday, and that is just too long to sit around and do nothing; now that we’ve said good-bye to our families let’s get going. I feel the anxiety building – not just in me but in everyone – as the last minute things that can get accomplished here press against us and the uncertainty of the next few weeks is only hours away.
There is more work to do before we get into Iraq. We’ll spend some time in Kuwait to train, acclimatize, and outfit into the latest protective gear available. We are only getting started.
If you are reading this and I did not call, stop in, or otherwise let you know I was in the area this weekend – I apologize. I you are reading this and I did get a chance to see you and say “good-bye” – thank you for adding to my weekend.