We stopped in Ireland on the way home from Iraq. I walked around the airport, simply enjoying being back in civilization. Coffee and bars and duty free shopping. What’s funny is that the people around us looked at us like we were a spectacle. One lady asked us where we were coming from and where we were going. She was incredibly nice, her accent gentle and lilting. Another gentleman, we’re pretty sure he was American stopped and shook our hand and said thank you.
But all in all, Ireland was just a comma in my journey back to my kids. I saw a lady walking around the airprt with her two little girls. Both blond, both young. The little one was tiny and adorable. It’s funny how watching a small child drag a rolling suitcase will inspire tears in random adults but it did. The kids were so adorable and a longing I cannot fully describe began burning in my chest. When people say their hearts ache, do you know what they mean? The anticipation wraps around me and brings tears to my eyes.
Just a few more hours and I’ll be home. I’m not even there yet but the thought of coming back to Iraq is breaking my heart. So I do what I always do. I shut it down and turn it off and cling to the anticipation of seeing my babies. Of the fights and the hugs and the kisses and the laughter. My husband and I wonder if the cats are going to beat up the kids. If our recently adopted horse (aka Lily, the 100 pound yellow lab refugee who joined our family from a rescue shelter) is going to remember us. Have our cats gone feral living with my brother in law?
And what about the kids? Will they understand that mommy and daddy have to go again? Will they be angry and lash out, destroying their rooms and the story books I’ve made for them? Will they kick the dog because they don’ t know what to do with the hurt inside of them?
All I know is that our choice has been made and our kids have to live with the impact of our choices. I hope and pray that it’s the right choice and that in the long run, the girls will be okay and that in a few more months we’ll be a family again.
Notions of patriotism seem kind of far off when your daughter is wailing into the phone that she wants to go home. I hope she understands someday. Because hope and prayer are about all I’ve got to cling to.