Last week when we took both the kids to the optometrist (neither needed glasses-more than a small miracle itself!), we were about half way through the 45 minutes route when the boy's eyes got huge and filled with tears. I was almost panicked, watching him struggle to get control of himself to be able to tell us what hurt/what was wrong and then he said it...
"Does this mean Daddy is going far, far away again?"
His four year old mind had linked the one other time he remembered being at the optometrist with his Daddy being gone as it was shortly before Joshua had returned.
It's not the first time he had asked it...when we were on our way to Disney last September, he had remembered the year before's R&R trip and had a small breakdown thinking we were all going to Florida but that his Daddy wouldn't be coming back with us.
I've been so ready for this day to come. To be able to say a year ago today my husband was home (or at least not being shot at) is a blessing that I treasure. The deployment taught me many lessons but one of the biggest was patience and what long-suffering love really is. It took long-suffering love to get through the deployment but it's also taken a long-suffering love to get through reintegration. We've made it to a year. We're still married...and I'm sad to say that isn't the case for everyone we've walked this journey with. Our children are healthy and happy and we've found our new normal. With Joshua still in the military, I don't take his being home for granted. I recognize and accept we may go through this same cycle again but today, we celebrate the time we've had together.
Maybe it's providential that this anniversary falls on St Patrick's Day. Many mistakenly assume he brought Christianity to Ireland (or miraculously rid it of snakes-although that would certainly be something to celebrate) but what he really did, according to Jon Sweeny who wrote a book about St Patrick, was organize, inspire and expand Christianity within Ireland but he didn't even do that right away. He spent six years as a slave-which is where he discovered his faith and then decades studying before he returned to Ireland.
Regardless of what the future may hold...what deployments, training separations or anything else we may face, St Patrick's Day will always stand as a personal reminder to "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope."