Sunday, June 13, 2010

Goodbye

How does one say “goodbye” to their soulmate for a whole year? We've already been living apart for 5 months in preparation for this job. He's had training, education, work. I've stayed back with the kids to give them a year and a half of “stability”. But is it “stable” when the family is torn apart?
We've had countless “goodbyes” in the past 5 months, seeing each other for a few days here and there. Playing family, acting as if life hasn't changed. And yet today we drove to the airport in silence. The kids were in the back seat singing and joking with each other. We sat in the front, holding hands an uncomfortable silence hanging in the air. Occasionally we would break the silence with a few words about the kids' plans for the summer, then we would each sink back into our own separate thoughts of what the next few hours, days, and months would bring. I couldn't express what was going on inside of me. I couldn't even identify the emotions and feelings. There is no adequate way to say how much “I love you”. Just deep, aching silence. We pulled into the airport and he let go of my hand to get a parking ticket. My hand ached just like my heart. I didn't realize how tightly we were clinging to one another. Our youngest daughter stood in the check-in line with him hovering close, not wanting to be separated a moment. We walked over to the terminal, we could go no further together. We each hugged and kissed him, our faces red with tears held in check. Another round of hugs. Then he turned and walked away, not looking back for fear of turning around and taking the easy way out. We stood there silently, my arm around our youngest, with tears streaming down our cheeks. A woman approach and asked if my husband was in the service. I replied “No, the State Department's Foreign Service. He's just leaving for Pakistan, he'll be gone a year.” She clasped my hand and said “Thank you, thank you for your sacrifice.”
No, it isn't the armed forces, but peace keeping in a country like Pakistan where the family isn't allowed to be together is a sacrifice that allows those on the soil in America to continue enjoying the freedoms they have. “Thank you to the woman who recognized the sacrifice.”

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