On this Veterans Day, our son is being deployed to Afghanistan. My wife wrote the following thoughts in her journal:
As a parent, I dream about my kid’s future. I pray for their future spouse. I pray Brooke won’t have the difficulties I had with infertility. I pray Nate grows into the man God wants him to be. I also process the bad things they may face so we can direct them away from danger.
After high school, Nate joined the Army National Guard. Sending him off to basic training for ten weeks was hard. But it was ten weeks; after that, one weekend a month. What could happen? Fast forward two years. Nate joined the Army full time, knowing this was his calling. In January of 2018 he moved to Colorado. After three weeks, he called and said, “Mom, I have found my tribe.” For a mom, how cool is that? Over the past ten months I’ve heard how great Colorado is and for the most part, he loves the Army.
Three months ago, I heard the word deployment. I dreamed what that would be like for Nate; how much he would love the adventure and experience. I also started processing the bad things that could happen. I asked a lot of questions and deemed myself ready; whatever ready meant.
Then I received the text: “Deployment Date is November 11, 2018. Gone for 9-12 months. Headed to Afghanistan.” Excitement for Nate. Dread for mom.
On Oct. 24th, we went to Colorado to spend time with Nate and say goodbye knowing he was headed to a dangerous country. The first three days together were great, eating some of our favorite foods, swimming, hiking through Garden of the Gods, and sharing stories and laughter together.
On day four, our last day together, I woke up feeling overwhelmed. Would I be able to say goodbye without crying? As we stood outside the hotel, we realized it was time. I started crying and told Nate how proud of him I was. Then I hugged him. Not like ever before, but as hard as I could; feeling his ribs and the muscles in his arms as I squeezed. It was hard to let go. I told him again how much I loved him and he was going to do great; God was with him no matter what. I tried getting in the car but turned back, hugging him and telling him I loved him.
Getting in the car on Saturday, Oct. 27th, was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not because I didn’t trust God or knew something bad would happen. But because I love my son and wanted to protect him even when I knew I couldn’t. He had to do that himself. His unit had to do that for him.
As we drove away, I looked back and saw the biggest smile on Nate’s face. It reminded me that God has had Nate in his arms since before he was conceived and that was not going to stop now. I still have that pit in my stomach. I still cry without reason when I think of him and the good that will happen and the potential for bad.
Today and going forward our view of Veteran’s Day is forever changed.
Hauser is the founding and senior pastor at Prairie Heights Community Church in Fargo-Moorhead and can be reached at www.jonhauser.com.