There are times whenever I am feeling down about things in my life, that I look at some friends and admire them for what they are going through. This weekend, as a friend of ours updated his Facebook status, I was reminded of that once more.
Our friend is being deployed on Thursday. Technically, he was already deployed, but his higher ups pulled some strings to keep him in the state for an extra couple weeks. Why?
His first child was born Friday.
A beautiful little girl who already has daddy wrapped around her little finger, the way little girls tend to do.
And between now and then, he gets to be daddy. He gets to hold her while she cries. He gets to change diapers. He gets to help out his wife – a woman he loves very much. Then, on Thursday morning, he kisses them all goodbye for a year. He should return a week before her first birthday.
Anyone who has ever served or known someone who has knows how there are times during your enlistment where you may as well just finish out the career until retirement. My dad played that game every year until we all told him he was in it until retirement. We knew it. He was too close to not finish it out.
This guy decided about 3 months into his wife’s pregnancy that he was done. His “lifer” status in the military was no more. While for others he was past the point of no return, he didn’t care. He was doing his tour, coming home, and getting the hell out. This will be his third tour. And this time, the stakes are too high for him personally. The sacrifice is much greater than ever before. A first time dad – an only time dad given the age of he and his wife – and he is missing out on seeing that magical time when baby becomes toddler. He is going to miss all of the firsts. And regardless of what retirement he will be walking away from, he doesn’t care. It isn’t worth missing more of his daughter’s life than he already is going to miss.
In the meantime, they have web cams setup on computers. They have networks figured out on how to keep in touch. But it will never be the same as being there – being able to hold her – being able to see her roll over the first time or crawl or hear her first word. All we can do is hope and pray he comes back to her safely – so that she gets to know her daddy – and he gets to know her too.
And until then, he will be enjoying ever second of his time with her.
A bittersweet moment – but one that I know he will be holding close to his heart while he is away.