Well we made it back okay. I avoided the subject of politics fairly well on the six-hour drive to Columbia, MO (where my family visit took us this weekend).
It’s strange, but my family has never been close on either side. My parents weren’t close to one another, and I have been trying to work through the issues inherent all my life. When I was a kid and we would visit the family in Missouri (my father’s kin) I would always be excited to see them. It was like a second Christmas to me, getting of the car and relishing the anticipation of seeing relatives that I hadn’t laid eyes on for months or even years.
The visits were like playdates for me back then -my sisters may as well have been aunts and uncles to me then, as they are both more than a decade my senior. My niece and nephew, however, were within a few years of my age. We would play together, inventing games to pass the time while the “adults” visited with each other.
My family isn’t perfect, and we are certainly not the closest in the world -but I realize now that I love most of them nonetheless. My neice, nephew, and I are all parents now -albeit young ones- and I think we’re all starting to understand the more serious aspects of adulthood. Tiff and I are unmarried and our children have yet to know the security of a paternal presence. Perhaps that’s why it’s so difficult to see Alyn leaving for Iraq tomorrow, with his 3 year old and 4 month old children here at home.
I pondered this afternoon, while thinking about his safety as I have much these last few weeks, whether it was better to have no mate at all or to have one who’s life I’d have to fear for. As his toddler fussed at the breakfast table, crying over some small thing as children are prone to do, I wondered if he knew how long it would be before he saw his father again. I played with his infant and realized that his father would probably not see his first steps.
My nephew is aware of his responsibility. He joined the military and is therefore subject to their orders. He’s also a human being and has every right to resent his being taken away at such an important time in his life. He doesn’t seem to. I know he doesn’t want to go, but he’s taking this whole thing very well. He’s always been the joker, the creative one -the kid who could always laugh and make you laugh too. I just hope that he comes back with that same infectious sense of humor.
I hate feeling this way. I’m just going to keep sending all the hope I can to those guys.