A Letter to My Active Duty Son

(Photo was taken with my son, the night before he left for basic training.)

I remember you…grabbing your Daddy’s BDU blouse he’d casually tossed on the couch after work. You wrapped it around your adorable toddler self and pattered around the living room, the hem of the shirt dragging on the ground behind you, the sleeves so long they tripped you.

You were still little enough to have dimples in your elbows.

I remember the morning you crammed your Barney backpack full of crayons, coloring books, and Matchbox cars so you could go to work with Daddy. I still have the photo of you both posing by the door before you left: him, tall and handsome in his blues; you, standing on tiptoe to reach up for his big hand.

I never imagined you’d go into the military, too.

I remember the pre-teen boy horsing around on the basketball court with his friends, carefree. I remember your Dad’s first deployment to Iraq, and how hard you fought to keep from crying. How you tried to take care of me.

You were only twelve years old. I look back now and think it was all too much for your small shoulders to bear.

“I’m tired of moving! I just want to stay somewhere longer than two years!”

I remember the teenaged angst, the hard goodbyes to close friends, the watching you pick up and make a new start three times during your high school years. I remember stumbling across a TV documentary on “military brats” (why didn’t I change the stupid channel?) and how they talked about how horribly scarred their lives were from being raised rootless. I remember praying that the love we had for you all would somehow overcome the moves, the challenges, the separations.

The deployments.

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