When my daughter Erin deployed 5 years ago and said good bye to us , it was very different then today.
Five years ago, our daughter and her children came to our home for Christmas, we all had a wonderful time together. The children then went to visit their father for a week, since my daughter and he were divorced. Then when their visit was over my ex son in law brought the children to their home and I came and picked them up. We packed up our truck with our granddaughter’s personal belongs, drove to our home and the children came to live with us.
This time when I arrived at our daughter’s hoe it was 5 days before she was to leave. I helped my daughter and her family put up all their Christmas decorations. I think this helped my daughter feel she was a part of their Christmas, knowing she would not be with her family.
My daughter wanted all of us to go to the airport and see her off. I did not want to because I was afraid I would cry, I was trying to be strong for her. But I did go for her sake. The day before she left was one of the hardest days for everyone of us. My daughter emotions were running high, not wanting to leave her family, and her family was trying to hard to be brave. I was warned by other military families the service member leaving will usually pick a fight with the family because this is a defense mechanism so they can leave their family, when they truly do not want to. But I knew what to do since I had attended Military Yellow Ribbon events. The secret was to not engage in the argument.
I had to reassure her children that the next day, their mother would be acting more like herself. Which was exactly what happened. the next day she was her old self.
The day she was to leave we all got in the car.We did not talk, we could not think of any thing to say. Which was so strange for all of us being so quiet. Once we arrived at the airport and Erin checked in with the ticket agent. She told the Alaskan airline ticket agent she was leaving and could her family go to the gate with her. The ticket agent was so supportive and gave us passes to the gate.
We walked to the gate and waited with her to board the plane. She took pictures of her with her children and husband on her Iphone. The final call for boarding plane was announced , she looked at me and we tried not to cry. We hugged each other and she just said, “Thank you mom for everything”. I could not say a word, because I knew I would cry if I spoke. Then she hugged her children one by one. Her children began to cry and my daughter started to cry. She hugged her husband and he whispered in her ear. She turned and began walking down the gateway. She turned around several times whipping her tears and waving goodbye.
I could not hold back my tears. I broke down crying. We embraced each other. Everyone at the gate watched us and knew how painful this was for us.
I think this was harder than before, but it was good for all of us to lean on one another.
Say goodbye is hard for everyone. I think this did help our granddaughters face the reality of their mother having to leave.