Try number 2. I had just finished what I thought was a pretty good post and went to post it and it went somewhere into the internet wasteland. I am ready to put a few .223 rounds into this computer, but then I would have give myself an Article 15 and that would get confusing. So, I'm going to try again although I'm sure the second pass won't be quite as good. Sorry. Oh and the spell checker isn't working so I'm sure there are some typos in here as well. You can request a refund if it really bothers you.Follow this link to find an outstanding blog post from a chaplain in another Battalion within our Brigade. I actually spent a little bit of time with him at Camp Shelby as we were fellow late mobbers and went through the makeup land navigation class together (you can't spell lost with LT by the way). The post is titled One Day Closer to Someday and when I read it, it pretty much describes how I've been feeling of late.
A strange thing happens to a soldier when they have been deployed for as long as we have been. Somewhere along the path this becomes the primary reality. It’ a scary thing and I have a better understanding of soldier atrocities, where soldiers have lost there humanity. I can no longer imagine what it is like to come home after a long day of work. I can no longer imagine what it will be like to sit and watch TV in the evening with my kids, or go for a Sunday drive, or sit down for a meal with my family. Without that imagination I have come up with this simple word of hope, “I am one day closer to someday.”
I don't know when I've felt this way in the past, but 14 months away from home, and my new reality is my daily routine here. Get up, go to work, go to the gym, go for a run, go to dinner, back to the office, call the wife, go to bed. Same uniform, same people, same office, etc. I can't remember when it happened, but I honestly can't grasp what it is like to not be in Iraq. I am no longer a husband-father-son-brother-employee. Those roles have been replaced by soldier-sergeant-legal guy-buddy.
What is odd is that there are days that the only thing real to me is my routine, and everything else is like a distant memory that I reach for but can't quite grasp. My son thinks that I live inside of either the phone, the video camera, or the computer, whichever happens to be in front of him at the time. How could he think otherwise? We've spent 19 of the last 375 days together, and I've now been gone longer then the time I spent with him. And I'm one of the fortunate ones, some left within a month or two of their child being born or even left with a pregnant spouse. I at least had 8 solid months to start building a relationship. Others have children that are old enough to know they are gone, and have to answer the question of "Daddy, when are you coming home?"
Driving a car to work, stopping to get groceries on the way home, mowing the lawn, and doing the dishes are now foreign concepts to me. Although Rik would argue that doing the dishes was a foreign concept before I left, but don't you believe her. I distinctly remember doing them at least twice. Maybe three times. Again, I am one of the lucky ones. I will most likely come home essentially the same person I was before I left, although a few pounds lighter and in far better shape. I've been to a combat zone but I haven't been to war. Soldiers that I serve with will live the rest of the lives with some of the things they've seen and done. Some will come home without all of the parts they came with and others won't come home at all. The worst case of PTSD I'll have is the horrors of Chief yelling over the plywood walls for Kerch and Johnson at least 10 times a day.
The Online Chaplain ends with: The 34th ID is one day closer to going home. So are we all. The bible says, we are one day closer to streets of gold. We are one day closer to…no more sorrow, no more pain, no more hardship of any kind. Although this life becomes our primary reality, there is another. Although this life’s hardships absorb me and capture me there are other truths. I’m not sure what heaven looks like, but I am sure it will be great. So, hang on tight. Don't let the pain win. You can do it. You will not always feel the way you do today. Remember, “You are one day closer to someday.”
I do know this, today is one day closer to coming home, whatever that day may be. And regardless of the things I miss about home, I still know that God has a plan for my life whether I understand it or not. He is strong enough to get us through our troubled times. Perhaps the most encouraging thought for me is that when I was home in September for leave, it took all of about 2 steps off the tarmac to forget about Iraq, the Army, and remember what it is like to be a husband-father-son-brother and a person with a first name. As soon as I saw my wife and son for the first time, I knew that was exactly where I was meant to me and what I was meant to do: to be the best husband to my wife and the best father to my son that I can be. I trust that it will be the same this summer, and that a year from now I'll be older but wiser, with a few good stories, and the knowledge that I served the cause of freedom and defended our great country.