Sam walked stiffly towards the flight attendant. The chubby little held onto hers as if it would keep them together. His five-year-old strength was not strong enough, not nearly strong enough to hold of the U.S. government. The attendant knew the routine. She had seen it all too often when she worked this flight. With this number of military bases, she thought her heart would be hardened by this point but she knew this would make her heart break inside.
Sam knelt before her son. His caramel skin did little to cover the smattering of freckles across his nose and cheeks. She forced a smile and pushed his curls back. “You are such a strong little man,” she stated, willing them both to believe it. She could see the tears welling up in the back of his eyes but he held them back. “Grandma will be so glad to see you.” She leaned forward to kiss his cheek and he threw his arms around her neck, holding on for dear life. She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Mmmm…I love you, too, my darling Ethan. I’m going to hold this hug in my heart until we are together once again.”
He sniffed back his tears and fought for composure. “Momma, be strong. Take care of the bad guys.” She smiled at her little man. Staring him in the eyes, she gathered his face in her hands and held it before her, remembering every detail. Once she had frozen his image in her mind, she stroked his cheeks with her thumb and rose to her feet. Ethan stood up straight as well. He turned and faced the attendant. “I’m ready but…” he looked at his mother, her uniform about askew from the hugs and tears, “Make sure you come back.”
Sam smiled a promise to him. He turned and took the attendant’s hand. She let him down the jet bridge and onto the flight. Sam watched as the plane pulled from the terminal and taxied out onto the runway. Sighing shakily, she turned and headed to the opposite end of the airport where her own flight would take off.
Ethan would be greeted with cookies upon landing. She hoped she would not be greeted with gunfire. A quick prayer slipped under her breath as she joined her combat brothers and sisters and “Amen,” echoed around her. Soon the gray Seattle rain would be replaced by the sands.
NOTE: So much is written about military men separated from their families. However, women are serving and sacrificing time with their loved ones as well. This was written to honor military moms. It is so hard to be away from your loved one and to trust them in the care of another. May your sacrifice be honored and worthy.