I have been asked that question many times over the past few weeks. Let me answer.
How’s it going with your family?
Lisa and I got through a tough time over the past few weeks. We delivered the baby on February 3rd and baptized her with the name, Rebecca Lucy. We are still looking for answers to the how and why questions that we still have. While in the hospital we found a way to laugh, and cry, and rejoice in the strength of our family. Lisa is an amazingly strong person and I am a lucky man.
Being home unexpectedly with my family allowed me time with the kids. TJ has only seen me in pictures and on the video on the computer for the last six months. His face lit up when I realized I was actually in the house. His attitude was along the lines of, “Oh, hey, there you are. Do you want to see my new toys?” He is a beautiful child and I love to see him laugh and smile. We took him sledding for the first time and he loved it and even helped pull the sled up the hill.
Samantha proved to be a patient pre-teen by allowing me to take care of Lisa first. She did very, very well on her report card making all of us so proud – she makes it seem easy. I went to visit her when she was ice skating with her 6th grade class. I never realized how tall she was until I compared her against 200 other 6th graders. She is tall and beautiful. Wow. She continues to be a great big sister and wonderful daughter.
How’s it going over there?
That’s other question I answered a lot. My answer is that, here, in Babil, we are doing well. No one could have imagined this situation twenty four months ago. The example I use is the provincial elections that were held on the day I returned home, January 31st. In Babil province alone over 1400 men and women ran in 78 different political parties for 30 available seats. Amazing. Amazing that 1400 people chose to run for office against such long odds (there were 14,000 people running nationwide). It speaks to the stability and security that they feel to be able to run for office. Election posters were everywhere. Why would people do that if they didn’t want to be part of the process of improving this country?
In Iraq there is no internal threat that can disrupt the slow but deliberate momentum the country is gaining. It will never be without corruption, nepotism, or intimidation, but then, hey, that’s Iraq. 2009 will bring slow economic growth and a new government. What I tell people who ask is that this is what it feels to be on the doorstep of win; slow, boring at times, and hopeful.
How’s it going with you?
Me? The loss of Rebecca hit me hardest when I left Lisa and the kids to return to Iraq. I am still sorting and making sense of everything. The distance from Lisa makes it harder than I want it to. In the past month I was able to find a lot of old high school friends via FaceBook and catch up on 25 years of adulthood. It’s funny how those memories pull me back to the days of designer jeans and “Frankie Says Relax” shirts. I am still suffering from jet lag following a 50 hour trip back to the FOB. In a way I am glad to be back in the mission. I was greeted by Soldiers with hugs and smiles – the sign of a strong unit and great people.
I have taken many moments to pause and reflect on my luck as a husband, parent, friend, soldier over the past few weeks. How am I? I am doing well.