Sunday, May 17, 2009

Leave, Part 2; Twenty-one Days

Don’t let the title fool you. I was only home for 15 ½ days. However, I did enough in that time to fill up three weeks of great memories with my family. Think about that; most of us spend our time with our family and friends and lose the truly memorable moments of life among the daily tedium of work, chores, and routine. My Leave was full of those memorable moments.

Seeing TJ for the first time since February, I picked him up from day care. He was outside running around, saw me, stopped dead in his tracks, yelled, “Dadda”, and started to jump around in excitement. The joy in his face was priceless.

I saw Samantha at her school where I had been invited to speak (in uniform) to her sixth grade class. She paraded me around as if I was royalty – which is exactly how I felt. And then I returned the favor by getting her classmates to applaud her for being a wonderful daughter.

I arrived home just in time for spring. Everything was turning green and was beginning to bloom. I enjoyed the first mowing of the lawn for the season. I say enjoyed, because it is my favorite chore of my household duties. For some reason, the smell of gasoline and cut grass reminds me of my father.

By Saturday, my family was all packed and on a plane to Florida for our cruise. I sat next to TJ and read books and played with toys as learned how to work the window shade; up, down, up, down, up. That night I went to dinner alone with Samantha who caught me up on her friends, school, and the drama-drama-drama that is her pre-teen life.

On Sunday we were on the Disney Wonder for four days and nights of perfect fun. I could gush, but it’s sufficed to say that the cruise was truly in the Disney fashion, everything was top notch. The kids were great, the shows spectacular, the snorkeling awesome, and boat was beautiful.

We returned home in time for me to take Sam to her concert where she played clarinet for the 7th and 8th grade band. Although her head and her heart were still on the cruise, she played great and I got to attend at least one of her concert this school year as I was totally blown away by the band’s performance.

Lisa and I planted a rose bush in honor of our daughter, Rebecca, who was supposed to have been delivered to term during these two weeks and ran in the Mother’s Day 5k race. Rebecca, and all that could have and should have been, was never far from our minds.
For bonus points, I finished Lisa’s Honey-do list she had waiting for me.

I even spent half a day with the company commander of the unit that is going to replace us in August. Making that contact, in person, was oh so instrumental to getting me to think about the end of this tour!

I boarded a plane for Atlanta on a Wednesday morning. On the ride to the airport, Lisa and remarked all of the things we did and how blessed we are to be able to do them. Lisa and TJ walked me to the gate and in a hurried state, said our good-byes.

I believe life is made of little moments. For example, I don’t remember all of Samantha’s birth, but I recall the moment when she first gripped my pinky with her tiny little hand as clearly as if it were yesterday. I don’t remember all of the details of my first date with Lisa, but I recall the story of her father and the deer outside of her window. I don’t remember all of the day my mother died, but I remember what I whispered in her ear just before she left us. Metaphorically speaking, all of these moments make a sort of patchwork quilt, as it were, where lots of different pieces of fabric make a whole new thing.

My Leave was full of these moments with my family. They can't always be captured on video or digital camera. Not even writing about them here can articulate all of the details and feelings associated with them.

I suppose that when you are so far away from the people whom you love for so long it makes you appreciate them even more. I treasured every second I was home.

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