Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Letting Go

Well.. it happened. Honestly, it was a difficult time of my life. Letting go.

People have approached me and said, "This is your son's second tour, it should be easier this time." To tell you the truth, it's harder. It's like looking at a rollercoaster. If you have been on it before, then you know what's coming up.. the hills to climb, valleys to cross, the unexpected turns, and the familiar emotions that go up and down those hills.

We decided to go up a couple days in advance - to spend quality time with our son. We told him we were being selfish.. we want to be by him as much as we could. He smiled and say, " No, that's not selfish, it's being a Mom. " :)
We had many fun moments, memorable moments.. like the time he tossed my shoe into the Ottawa River and looked at me and smirked.. as I gave chase after him. Looking over my shoulder I knew I had to return to rescue my drifting shoe. His laughter, I truly cherish. And yes, I took my revenge with a spraying of the water.

Where to stay?
Then the thought came. Where were we to stay up there? (in confusion we had thought reservations had been made but they hadn't been.) We had to go..go on a mission.. a mission to find a place to stay. We started in Petawawa. It was booked up. Copying a page from the phone book, we started our mission. Leading towards Pembroke, we called a couple places (booked up), driving we saw no vacancy signs. Darn it. It was getting later.. and we wanted to spend time with our son! Further and further away we started finding some success.. however unfortunately.. for our um reasons.. those we chose not to stay at. Perhaps it was the odd odour in the rooms?

So we moved on. Finally we found one! (if you are in need of a place to stay, I highly recommend it!) It was the Comfort Inn in Pembroke. It overlooks the Ottawa River. Unfortunately we couldn't enjoy the view as it was getting dark. We were tired... and it would be a nice place to crash for the night.

We met up with our son and his girlfriend over a nice juicy steak dinner. mmm at a restaurantwhich highly supports our troops. Yes, unbeknownst to him the three of us were counting the hours and moments, dreading the goodbye ... our last dinner together before deployment... 14 hours before check in..tick..tick.. His smile, his laughter... I love. We cherished each and every minute with him.. as we were aware the clock was ticking.. the deployment would soon be here. Together through tears, we all packed up his belongings in his room. As we parted we said goodnight... tick..tick.... tick... 8 hours till check in.

This was a year I shared my son - something new for me - he has a wonderful girlfriend who wanted to share him with us! She would encourage him many times saying "Sit beside your mother." And there were times we would walk away leaving them alone together so they could say their goodbyes as well. Yes - I wanted to be beside him every second, holding onto him and protecting him as mothers do- (heck, I'd go on that plane if I could) but he has someone new in his life - his love and I respect their relationship.
We returned to our place where I had things to do.. I still wanted to finish a sign for the deploying soldiers..and as last time.. write a letter to him - reminding him how proud I am of him (this I wrote with tears streaming down my cheeks)... I needed to pack up and being ready as the morning would come soon enough.

The sun rose brightly as we packed up to meet him at his breakfast meeting of choice: Tim Hortons -Our last breakfast before check in. My son was not there yet and looking around I noticed a couple - he looked like he was deploying on the same chalk. With effort, she smiled as I passed their table. I smiled back and nodded.

My son approached through the parking lot wearing his desert tans. I jumped up and ordered for him as he greeted fellow soldiers that entered. Introducing me to them - I learned of a soldier whose wife will be deploying soon. He will be parenting their 3 children in her absence - he had deployed 2 years previously (my thoughts will be with you.) The coffee didn't last long enough... his girlfriend K. and I exchanged glances and we knew what the other was thinking.. this was it.
As we approached the building, it looked much bigger than before. Ominous in the morning skies. Nope, changed my mind.. didn't want to do this... as I had promised him no tears and I could feel the stinging in my eyes already.

Check In
Entering, I noticed many, many soldiers and families inside - hugging, taking pictures, laughing, sipping coffees, shaking hands... Here was the place where I met the section - the men serving with my son. Some mothers closeby looking proudly on as we shook hands. I would then turn and give the moms a hug as I knew what they were feeling. My son phoned his grandfather from his cell phone - as his grandfather wished him the best and let him know that he was praying for him. His grandfather wanted so much to be there with him, however with his age, the trip was a difficult to make. His heart was there.


The Padres, dressed in desert tans as well, came and spoke with us, reassuring us that they would be watching over the troops while overseas. They had a big job ahead of them as well.

Please pray over them and protect them.

People spoke with one another, some saying their tearful goodbyes until we heard the booming commands. Soon, they started calling the names. Roll Call. "Sgt. ___ " "Here!" Ironically, they were disappearing one by one into the light - the doorway where the buses were parked. We kept holding hands, praying and trying not to cry.

Soon my son's name was called and he walked away. Head held high. He walked towards the door. While walking away from the room, I noticed one mother crying uncontrollably. I stopped and held her in my arms. I hope I was able to comfort her in some way.
Outside the building, many people stood. I noticed one woman, wearing red, waved feverishly as each bus passed. The troops need this support. We passed many yellow ribbons as we travelled through the base.
Through Eganville, the buses drove over a bridge adorned with yellow ribbons. Lots of support.

Then they edged towards Tweed. Here I had attached a big yellow ribbon (dwarfed by the letters on the sign) to their welcome sign (as I knew they would be making a stop at the Tim Hortons here) Unbeknownst to me.. the people of the town were awaiting the arrival of the soldiers in the Tim Hortons parking lot! Wearing red shirts - men, women and children cheered our troops- waving their Canadian flags feverishly! What an amazing sight. Well, tears flowed easily now. It was such a moving experience to see this!
They cheered loudly as the soldiers disembarked the buses towards the building. The troops stopped and shook hands with the towns people and chatted with them. At the entrance of the building, stood the manager handing out Tim Hortons Certificates to the soldiers and veterans stood close by shaking hands of each of our troops. I thanked many of the people their for their outstanding support - letting them know that it meant a lot not only to the soldiers but to families as well.

Soon they left the parking lot. Under a police escort, they drove along the main road. Here I noticed all the houses sporting flags and signs saying "Bless Our Troops" "Support Our Troops." The legion in Tweed awaited their arrival where veterans and more towns people had gathered, cheering our soldiers! and again their flags. What a sight! The soldiers left the buses and met with the towns people who wished them well on their mission. The veterans came to me and gave me hugs - letting me know that they would be praying for them.. assuring me of their safety.

Soon the bus' horn sounded and the soldiers climbed on board. The people gathered and waved and cheered.


CFB Trenton
Well the air force base approached soon enough. .. too soon. Slow that clock down. Families re united with their soldiers. Hugs were everywhere. Looking around I noticed some soldiers talking on their cell phones.

Last calls before boarding for the land far away - on the other side of the world. Soon we learned that we had a 2 hour wait. Some sat inside the airport, some approached the pay phones to make their calls. (trying to make light of things, I teased them saying they were calling in pizza orders) others went outside. The sun was strong. It didn't matter. The sunkiss would be a reminder of this day. As hunger pangs started, I suggested to my son to take orders for Tims for his section and I would send my husband to fill their orders. (o.k. have to let you in on this -I told my husband that our son was taking orders from all the soldiers - he nearly fainted) We would have done so if we could. I promise.

Saying not goodbye.. but see you soon

Sitting outside, I soon noticed the arrival of the box filled with coffees, teas, donuts, etc. Sitting on the curbside with his girlfriend on one side and myself on the other of my son (her orders:) we sat sipping our teas. Soon it was time. Time to say our goodbyes. Thinking of the other soldiers, I decided to say goodbye outside. My son turned to me and said "Well Mom.. it's time." He said, "you are so brave and are doing so well." I looked to him, holding onto him tightly, I wept -hard. With my tears soaking into the desert camoflauged uniform, I told him I failed - I wasn't the brave one now. But I let him know how much I love him and how proud of him I am. I told him from the time he walks through the door, his focus and worries should not be on us, but only on the mission ahead of him. Holding onto his hand I again told him I loved him once again and then let go.


Anonymous said...

OMG I am balling my eyes out reading your story.... My son came home 2 days ago but when he left to go overseas back in Feb we didnt get to do any of the stuff you did there.... Once our guys boarded the bus at the Edmonton base they were gone... I am so happy you got to have so much time with your guys.... I wish your son and all the other troops that have recently deployed a safe and speedy tour...

Anonymous said...

That sounds like such a wonderful send off. It is so hard to see them off. We had to leave before the bus left but we sat in a restraunt and had breakfast and watched the buses go by. 7 months later I got to greet my son and that was an amazing greeting. Would not have missed it for the world. You and all families of soldiers in Afghanistan will be in my thoughts and prayers. God Speed. May the 7 months fly by and all their Guardian Angels be on high alert. Once a military mom always a military mom!

Anonymous said...

Now it's starting to hit me! tears are sneaking out as i read your article. My son left on tour sept 21 from pettawawa. we couldn't even make it out of the parking lot outside to go into the building as my son asked me not to said he had to get his head together. To teary eyed to hardly even type right now but had to respond. so much of what you said hit's me hard as i also took some time out before he went on his tour.went camping with just him and a guitar player friend of mine. Will never forget that time we had. Even his grandpa showed up and it just made me so proud. i tell people the sorrow is covered up by how proud i am. As i read your articles it upsets me to see all the support are troops are getting from some cities. My son belongs to the 56 Artillary Field Regiment in Brantford Ont. do you think i see any support here? NO!!! Its too bad! pretty upset right now so will sign off and chin up Military Mom know where your coming from!

Military Dad

Anonymous said...

I sure hope you have more responses as i really enjoy hearing about other peoples response, does'nt make me feel so alone about how i fell. thanks again for all your trials and turbulations military mom and to all the people that return with their comment.

Military Dad

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting at work with tears reading this...brings back the day Doug deployed and I know how tough it will be when he deploys again. Such is the life of us military moms. We're thinking of you always.


Anonymous said...

Military Dad - we didn't have any support in Guelph when our son deployed with Military Mom's son in Aug 2006 and some from Brantford as well. However, there is a fantastic group in KW which will welcome you with open arms (Families of Cdn Soldiers in Afghanistan - FOSCIA). They are there for the families of both reg force and reservists. The 11th Field here in Guelph has now started a group for the families of the Guelph reservists that are currently deployed. I'll bet our kids all know each other. If you search this blog you will find the contact info for FOCSIA.

Take good care of yourself & your family. Our military family will keep you in our thoughts...God speed to all our sons and daughters!


4:18 PM

Anonymous said...

Happy Turkey Day to all our Troops!


3:20 PM

Military Mom said...

Thank you for all the support, emails and comments. This is not only helping me but others as well. Thanks DB for all your support and for suggesting the FOCSIA support group to Mil.Dad. If anyone would like to get in touch with them, they can be reached at their email address: (a very supportive and informative group) As well, the armoury at 1 Valour Place in Cambridge now has a MFRC Liason for families of deployed soldiers! Donna can be contacted through the week M-F 8-4 for any information. Watch the blog for upcoming events. Question for Military Dad... have you received a deployment package? Let me know o.k.? We shall persevere and lean on each other through this together.

Anonymous said...

yes i did recieve a deployment package. thanks for asking. military mom. just got back from working and found some time to talk. talked to my son yesterday via MSN by surprise. guess he was slighty injured (by a silly accident)so right now he's in KAF healing. Made me realize for the first time how real what's going on over there. my son wanted to talk to me in private so i had to scurry everybody from the room. he proceded to tell me that a rocket had exploded within 200 meters of him where he had beenstanding not a couple hours before. My mouth dropped and my heart hit the floor. i think whats the hardest is he needs me to talk to cause he doesnt want to cause alarm with all the other family members. it just proves to me maybe i wasn't so tough on him when he was young.turned out to be a real man. so proud of him.just really hard to take his conversation.cant stay on this subject matter anymore right now need to go and do something to take my mind off this, making me very emotional right now. talk to you later. change of plans my son just signed on need to get it together. bye