Friday, February 15, 2008

Tugging at My Heart Strings

I learned something today that pulled on my heart strings. My mom said that when my wife and our kids were visiting her over Christmas that my oldest son saw the sign on her living room wall that read ‘Home Sweet Home’.

“Grandma, do you really believe that?” He asked innocently.

“Yes,” my mom replied, eager to know what my son was thinking. “Do you?” He told her he didn’t know because I was gone all the time. She almost started to cry.

I think about hanging out with my boy nearly everyday. When I used to tuck him in to bed, I’d give him a big hug and say, “you’re my best friend. I love you, buddy.”

“I love you too, dad.”

I just wrote him a really long letter. In fact, I wrote all the kids. I feel so bad being away. It hurts him and it really hurts me too. I don't want him to suffer like I did when I didn't have a dad around. More than once, I remember wishing I could play catch with a dad like the other kids did. No one should be blamed. Divorce happens. That’s the fact of life.

Unfortunately, I've been away for a large part of my kids’ life. I hate it, and I didn’t volunteer for this deployment, but on the other hand, I need a job. It's a terrible balancing act. It’s a warrior’s bane.

The day before one of my co-workers died, his son, then 9 or 10 years old, told him on the phone that he hated him for always being away. I know the boy didn't mean it; he was just hurt and wanted to see his dad. Of course, his dad felt horrible about it and told everyone. The worst part is, he was blown up by a bomb the very next day. The poor kid will have to live with that forever—that he told his dad he hated him just before he died.

If I could do one thing today it would be to tell those closest to me how much I love them, and if I’ve ever done anything to cause them pain, then I’m sorry. I think if we did that often enough, we would have more peace in our family relationships and communities, and greater peace throughout the nation and the world. …And then I could come home. We could all come home.

We’d all be wise to follow the diplomatic and tactful statesman, Woodrow Wilson, who said:

If you can come to me and say, ‘Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ from one another, understand why it is that we differ from one another, just what the points are, ‘we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together.

May the Lord bless us with peace and love at home. The strength of our communities and nation lies with strengthening the fundamental unit of society: our families.

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