Saying Good-bye to A Son Going to War
Please note: My son returned alive and whole, thank God, from his tour of duty in Afghanistan July of 2010. This Hub was written November 2009.
Dec. 14, 2009
We just celebrated Thanksgiving without my son, we’ll celebrate Christmas without him too. He sent these photos and I hesitated sharing them because I was too emotional to put them up. I miss him. I miss him and sometimes fight the fear that rises in my throat when I think of him in Afghanistan. His beautiful young wife misses him as well. His little baby girl Kaylee was only a month old when he left. She’ll be over a year old when he returns - God willing.
This is where my son sleeps. His “bedroom” is the one with the Red Wings flag.
Please think of him this Christmas and Chanukah. Think of my son Alex, my daughter’s boyfriend Erik, and Dave’s son Dustin. They sacrifice so that we can be free.
Dave is a friend, someone who works with my husband. He wrote this after he said good-bye to his son Dustin who is going off to war.
My Son . . .
By Dave Dunckel
Today at 20:51
My son went off to war today.
I talked to him for a minute right before he got on the plane. He inadvertently told me where he was flying out of, and then we both realized that Operational Security – OPSEC – demanded that he probably should keep the details to a minimum. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that,” he said. “Probably not,” I told him. I asked him to be careful – to keep his head down. I told him that I loved him. He said he loved me too, and then he said goodbye. He asked me to call his wife. “She’s a wreck,” he said.
When I hung up I found it a little hard to breathe. My lungs felt like they were filled with spider webs and a slow and heavy weight pushed down upon my shoulders. I fought the tears by inhaling sharply and exhaling just as hard. Short, quick breaths. I recalled the feeling that I had the first time that I saw him drive a car; I had confidence in his abilities . . . I knew it was inevitable that he someday take the wheel . . . and I knew that driving was much more dangerous than it seemed. I pushed back my emotions and I called his wife, Caitlin. I told her that we loved her. I told her that she had stepped into a pretty demanding role, and that she was feeling the same thing that women have felt for thousands of years. I told her that she would look back on this day and it would be just that – a memory. The time would pass, and in one year he’d be home.
The last time he left was not as bad, for I was going too. We were never closer than 30 miles away from each other, but somehow being in Iraq the same time as him made me feel much less fearful and a whole lot closer. The first time he left was not as bad, either. The war was young and both of us were filled with the excitement that comes from being part of the spearhead, part of the force that was going to wrap this up in a few weeks or months. This time is different. This time, we both know better.
Dustin is going back to a place where he lost his best friend, and then his next best friend. He is going back to a place where he spent a thousand hours walking on patrols and waiting for the sound of gunfire. He is going back to a place that claimed over half of the men who appear with him in a photograph that I keep framed on my desk. He has none of the delusional optimism of a politician; none of the sense of invincibility that accompanies a Soldier who has not seen combat, and none of the sense of adventure that grips those who sit on the couch and watch as the war unfolds on the evening news. He knows that at best, he is in for a long and slogging fight.
He also knows that he is doing this so others do not have to. He has paid his dues, but he will do so again and again because he has chosen the life of an Infantryman. He is not a parade-type patriot. You won’t see him waving a flag or threatening someone who threatens to burn one. He shows his patriotism in his deeds and actions, and the flag he flies is affixed to his right sleeve right below the shoulder. He may not agree with the fight, but he fights because he knows it is not his choice to agree or not. He leaves those decisions up to those he fights for.
I am proud of my son, and know how hard it is for him to do this one more time. Keep him in your prayers, and thank the good Lord that men like him exist.