Tears rolled gently down my cheeks as I walked to my car. I turned to watch your plane ascend to the heavens taking you to a place so far away. A place that would forever change the course of your life. The uncertainty of it all weighing heavy upon my shoulders. Frantic questions running through my head, last minute things I wished I had said, the many unknowns dancing about in my mind, with a deep breath, I started the car and headed home.
Six years and 351 days ago you were a scared and frightened young girl when you arrived at Fort Jackson. I was a scared, frightened mom who learned to to let you go. I knew in that moment I could no longer “protect” you from the world. I could only pray that everything would be alright.
Your first phone call home was all too short. And yet, I could hear how brave and scared you were. I could hear the tears in your voice as you told me not to cry. I remember wishing I could transport myself and rip you out of the grips of Uncle Sam.
One of your greatest attributes has been your determination. You refuse to give up. You refuse to give in. No matter how hard a task may seem you will see it through to the end. I knew then as I know now, had I been able to remove you from that situation, you wouldn’t have let me.
Over the years I have often thought my heart would burst from pride. The day you graduated from Basic Training. The day you received Soldier of the Year. Each time you would call home to tell us of another promotion or achievement. Every time you would introduce us to your Superiors and show us where you worked. And, both times that you left for Iraq and even more so on the days you returned.
You have served your Country well.
Here we are 7 years later and today is your last day in uniform. The emotions, memories and feelings are a bit overwhelming. I find myself at another point in your life where I can not “protect” you from the world. Once again, I can only pray that everything will be alright.