This past Friday my family fell apart again. I watched, holding in each tear that filled my eyes, as Ninja #1 hugged my husband one last time.
“Bye-bye, Daddy,” Ninja #1 said.
“Bye-bye, my son,” my husband said, his eyes fixed on our Ninjas, trying to take in all of their smallness before he headed back to his base in the Azores for 10 more months. I look at him and I know he knows. He will miss so much.
The next time my husband will hold Ninja #1, he will not be the 3-year old toddler who stumbles over words to explain his thoughts. He will be a 4-year old Ninja who will tell endless stories with such absoluteness you would not doubt his imagination as fact. Ninja #2, will not be the 6-month old drooly, babbling baby, but a 1-year old crawler, possibly a walker.
My husband took leave for a two week visit with our Ninjas. Those two weeks flew by with hugs, kisses, wrestling matches, racing cars, sword fights, endless potty breaks, smiles, giggles, and enough bedtime stories to last a month. I watched my husband take on each task with cheers of excitement and a smile on his face. He savored every memory he shared with his Ninjas. It’s the only thing he’ll have until he’ll be able to hold them again.
With each visit, saying good-bye gets harder and harder.
“Mommy, where is Daddy?” Ninja #1 asks.
“He had to go to work, baby,” I say, my heart breaking as I see my Ninja’s eyes blink in confusion.
“I show Daddy my truck when he gets home,” my Ninja says, walking off to put his truck away.
So, this is how it is. My Ninjas get extra hugs and kisses when my husband is away, and I wrestle as much as I can with Ninja #1. I’m not as good at that as my husband is, but that’s what Daddy’s do best. My husband will Skype our Ninjas for a short period each day, and eventually, Ninja #1 will stop asking when Daddy will be home.
We’re a military family. This is how life is. But, we will be a family again. When my husband’s tour is over. When 10 months pass by. When my husband steps off the plane and runs to hug his Ninjas, again. We will be a family, again.