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Looking for the right answer. Is there one?

Submitted by on Wednesday, 7 October 2009 2 Comments

So, are you all going to be all right while I’m gone, Dad asked the other day.

Yikes! Mental land mine ahead, my brain screamed. Out of the two possible ways to answer that question, one would be horribly wrong. But which?

It’s an issue we’ll run into a lot between now and the beginning of the year, when Dad’s oft-delayed deployment looks likely to actually happen.

On a level I’ll never quite understand, he’s looking forward to it a little. I suppose it’s similar to the way some people look up to action heroes and their feats. It’s a chance to be tested in a way that few of us are.

On the other hand, he’s already vowed to not enjoy the holidays because he knows that when they end he’ll be headed to Afghanistan and another round of missed birthdays and holidays and tee ball. Except this time the bullets will be real.

And the sentiments can swing wildly from minute to minute. Which is why I thought carefully before answering.

If I said “yes,” and said it too quickly, he could interpret it as me not really caring whether he’s in Kabul or California. “Yeah, go ahead and get your head shot at. We’ll be partying on as normal.”

But if I said “no,” then that sets him up for a year-long freak out. “I’m getting my head shot at and they’re lying half dead in a hospital back home.”

I groped for a neutral path.

“Well, we did OK while you were in basic training, and that was for six months,” I said casually.

“True,” he said. “But what if someone gets sick this time? What if you get in trouble and I’m not there?”

“Then I’ll handle it,” I said. “We’ll figure out a way. We always do.”

Which was true, in part because there was little to figure out the last time. We had a fairly easy spree.  Big Guy was considerate enough to wait until after Dad got back to break his wrist.

What’s also true, though, is that I can’t promise him that his kids won’t get hurt while he’s gone this time. I can stress that the odds are against tragedy, but I can’t guarantee that one won’t happen.

Problem is, Dad’s a worrier and that’s exactly what he wants to hear: That life will be perfect while he’s deployed.

Sorry, hon, I thought, but didn’t say. Life won’t be perfect – it never has been. But we’ll survive. You just focus on doing the same.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leslie K. said:


    Ok, he’s not my husband and the father of my children, but I feel so torn about Ryan (my oldest nephew) leaving in January for Basic Training. On the one hand I am proud that he has chosen an honorable way to follow his dream and achieve his goal. On the other hand, I want to know where that little boy who wanted to be a cowboy went…..you are in my prayers, girlfriend….

  • Debra said:

    What’s even more weird for me is I thought I was through worrying about people in the military. My brother and sister both got out, and I was living in an Army town anymore where I was surrounded by it 24-7. I guess life sure showed me.

    You’re absolutely right about the mixed feelings. We’re both bouncing wildly back and forth now between the pride and fear.

    And thanks for the prayers, Leslie. We all appreciate them.