“But the freedom that they fought for, and the country grand they wrought for, is their monument today, and for aye.” ~Thomas Dunn English
I come from a family of Veterans. My grandfathers, uncles and dads all served in the military. And today, I’m married to a Navy man. While we acknowledged Memorial Day as I was growing up, I feel that only recently has my family truly celebrated it. Today, I am grateful.
This May marks one year since my husband deployed for seven months. The memories of his departure and my anxiety that day are still fresh. I was pregnant and had the stomach flu. My husband wanted to say goodbye to the boys at the hangar–he didn’t want their last memory of him to be walking out of our front door and not returning for nearly a year. We said our tearful goodbyes on base and I drove home with the tears welling up as soon as I closed the car door. The medicine I had taken to prevent nuasea during the drive and our goodbye made my head spin and I had to pull over to recompose myself. There, hanging thickly in the air and tangibly as a pit in my stomach were the doubts. The questions. The “what if’s.” What if that was the last time my sweet boys would ever kiss their daddy’s face? What if it was the last time I would feel his embrace? What if he would never meet the baby growing quietly in my belly? What if that was our last goodbye?
My faith compels me to push those doubts away and trust in God, who in His divine creation, has a perfect plan for our lives. To lean on Him and not on my own understanding. But the military spouse in me struggles on days like that. We know all too well the hurts and suffering of our comrades who have not been so blessed. But, I simply returned to Him, because there is nothing else to do.
We were blessed to have our homecoming last December. Today, my family is complete, but we somberly remember the families who are not. The ones who have lost mommies or daddies and sons or daughters. And I am grateful — for my own family and for those who proudly and boldly serve to protect our nation. For the sacrifices of our soldiers and of their families.
Deb Schwedhelm, my dear friend and photographer, came to Virginia to document Mike’s homecoming. The first image is of Mike’s father, Bill, returning from deployment in 1975 meeting Mike for the first time when he was two months old. And 35 years later, Mike, meeting our daughter Scout for the first time when she was also 2 months old. What a treasure to have these images that celebrate two generations of service to our country–and two very blessed families.
More of Mike’s homecoming by Deb. Wishing you and yours a very Happy Memorial Day.