There have been a lot of times since this has begun that I have thought of my children and how this is going to hurt. It will hurt me, but I know what I am doing and why; and how it will benefit them. All of us, really. They, on the other hand, do not.
They don't know yet. I want for them to have a normal, happy Christmas. I will tell them the day after Christmas. Their mothers don't know yet, either. I am divorced, unattached to their mothers, but I love them... if for no other reason than they are both great mothers. It would be a burden to them to know and not tell their children. It is a burden on me that is sometimes nearly too much to bear, but I already decided that it would be selfish to tell them before Christmas.
I have looked at my children and known, and in that moment felt the pain of separation, felt their innocence, and known the pain that is coming for each of us. I was glad for their innocence in that moment. My eyes have stung, but I've bitten my lip and pushed through.
All of this has a sense of unreality. I have been quietly training myself for months... reading, exercising, learning Farsi in my spare time. Yet it still has an air of unreality to it. That moment of innocence keeps that feeling of unreality in place. It's sometimes every bit as unreal as that place is to me, that place I'm going that I've never seen except in pictures, the people I've never met that I may be closer to a year from now than I can even imagine now. Unreal.
I've wondered when I was finally going to cry. Tonight it happened. I sat by myself and cried. I cried for my children, for what they're going to go through. I'm grateful to have finally cried.
I've been reading a blog by Scott Kesterson, an imbedded reporter with the 41st Brigade, Oregon Army National Guard. They are the unit currently doing the ETT mission in Afghanistan under the name of Task Force Phoenix. One of the problems of a warrior, of this warrior anyway, is to express what it is; what it means. I want to be able to tell those who I love, those who I care about, those who ask me, "Why?" Mr. Kesterson got a big chunk of the feeling, and I realize that to someone who does not have the feeling it will still not ring true. But it did for me. And it brought me to tears. I'd love to cut and paste it here, but his blog is copyrighted, and I'll respect that. So here is the link. It's way down the page, under "Saying Good-bye, I"
Thank you, Sir. I needed that.