Sunday, November 21, 2010

Letters From Home

“Do you think we’ll have Christmas this year?”

I looked at the young Soldier, not quite sure how to respond.  It was an honest question.  When you’re deployed, life seems to happen without you.  You see pictures and get e-mails of everything going on “back home” and you always feel left out.  You always feel like you’re never close enough to feel like you’re right there with them.

When I left for deployment, Sean was only saying a few words.  He was so cute when he started putting emphasis on “Mommy!”  As if it was the coolest word in the world.  And he would say “Hi” and “Yay”.  But a month later, he was putting words together to make phrases.  Now?  He’s almost having a full conversation.  And it just tears me up inside to watch life happen from a distance.

For Halloween, I saw pictures of their outfits.  I learned that my brothers were going to let Caden be a knight, but Caden wanted to be a boxer instead.  Last year?  I put him in a pirate costume and he just thought it was so cool.  This year he actually chose.

A couple of months ago, a Marine’s wife had an allergic reaction to her meds and ended up in the ER for a couple of days.  He couldn’t be with her or even talk to her until she was back home recovering.  “I’m beating myself up over the fact that I can’t be there to hold her,” he said.

An Army Lieutenant was able to go home to be with his wife during the last week of her pregnancy.  She didn’t have the baby until a week after he left.  He spent the birth of his first baby deployed.

So when you’re overseas, on a camp filled with hundreds of others who are missing their friends and families, and someone asks, “Do you think we’ll have Christmas this year?” it’s a pretty legitimate question.  When the Soldier asked me this question, he wasn’t implying that he wanted presents.  He wanted Christmas.  He wanted the feel of home.  He wanted to drive around and look at the houses all lit up with the radio playing nothing but Christmas songs.

And then I got a care package in the mail filled with things just for the troops.  Things like hygiene products, snacks, coffee, and magazines.  Then, at the bottom of the box was a ziplock bag full of cards.  An elementary school teacher started a school project, having the kids write letters to the deployed troops.  As I read through the cards, my heart was touched by the sweetness of these children.
Read what it says below

And one made me sob, actually sob.  Jeez, I’m tearing up just writing about it.  Anyway, this one made me want to hug this kid, who seemed to truly empathize with us.  It just amazed me that this child, all of them really, actually touched my heart thousands of miles away just by saying Thank You.  It reminded me of why we were out here.

I posted the cards and letters up on one of our walls so everyone could see.  And it was really cool to watch as people smiled as they read what these kids wrote to them.

Thank you, to anyone who has done something like this.  Whether it’s thanking a military member up close or through a letter.  You truly do bring us close to home, make us feel appreciated, and remind us why we fight for our freedoms.

Lots of us won’t be home for Christmas, but because of these forms of encouragement we will still have our Christmas spirit!

"Dear brave Soldier, Thank you for sacerficing your life, time and joy for our country.  It is a very brave thing for you to do.  I can't ever imagine being without my family for so long, missing every moment.  But you should be proud, your family and your WHOLE country honors you!  You are a very special person.  Also, try to not think how much you miss your family, just remember all the good times you've had with them!  Thanks again!  Sincerely, Ashley."

On the fridge of an Army dad is a letter between both dad and son:
"Domenic lups you 1,00000,00000,2300000.
 I love you this much 2333300000
and I love you 122220000,00000"
At the bottom is a drawing his son did before he deployed.  The stick figure has tears falling down to a puddle at his feet and he says, "I will miss you."


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