Daddy's Promise

April 3, 2011
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I remember the day. Sitting out in the warm July heat. Mama, told me to play outside, she say I didn’t need to be listening to daddy talk while he packed. I think she just didn’t want me to see her cry. I knew what was happening even though I was only four.

Daddy was leaving, going to fight for mama, Jack and me. So we could be happy and free. Daddy told me the night before that he had to do it, there was no way he could get out of it. He say he don’t want to go, say he’d rather be here with mama, Jack and me. I know what he say is true but I know he’s going to leave me soon.

“Cali Jane, come here,” I snap out of my little world at the sound of daddy’s voice from the porch.

“Yes sir,” I say jumping up with a smile on my face.

“Now, while I’m gone you have to listen to Jack, he’s going to be the man of the house,” Noticing the obvious look of disgust at the thought of listening to my older brother he pauses, “Now, now baby be nice. Your brother is going to keep you and your mama safe for me. But, I won’t be gone long I promise. Back in time to see you in a pretty Christmas dress, I promise.”

“Daddy, why does Jack get to be in charge? I could do just as good a job as he can, probably even better,” I smile and look into daddy’s big brown eyes, “You know I’m smarter then him, Ms. Karen even says so. Mama says Ms. Karen just wants to be my friend, but I know I’m smarter then Jack.”

“Baby girl it’s not about being smarter, it’s about being older and Jack being a boy. Maybe when I get back your mama will go on a trip and you can be the woman of the house. How does that sound sweetie?”

“Sounds perfect,” I say, ear-to-ear grin on my face

Mama, and Jack came out for a final round of good byes and I love you’s. When it came time for daddy to leave Mama sat crying on the porch as Jack and I ran to the fence waving goodbye and yelling after him.

“Home by Christmas Daddy,” I yelled, “Don’t forget you promised.”

I remember standing in the yard with my brother when mama had gone inside. Once he’d left her sight in his green Army uniform she had gone into the house to cry on the couch. I didn’t understand what was so sad. He’d be back, he promised. Daddy never broke a promise.

Walking away that day was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. Leaving my wife and children alone for only God knew how long. I walked with my shoulders back and my head held high. I couldn’t show the world how afraid I was for what I was about to face. My brother John was meeting me at the bus station. We were being sent together to North Korea.

“Thomas,” John sighed upon seeing me on the platform, “I was beginning to think you got scared out of coming.”

“Me, scared? Never John” I smiled and hugged my brother still masking my fear. I knew he could hear it in my voice as hard as I tried to mask it.

“We’ll make it back Thomas,” He smiled stiffly and patted my shoulder, “You have more to come back to then I do. God, wouldn’t take you away from your children for long.”

He would never know what his word had meant to me. My brother had always been my best friend. And I was glad to be risking my life for our freedom with him. I wouldn’t have gone with any one else. Once we had made it to our final destination we were loaded on a plane with at least one hundred other brave men and a few women (medics) ready to win this war, or die trying. Something in my heart ached for a win with out any death.

It was September and I still thought daddy would be home any day. We received a letter from him once a week. Even though we knew we’d only get a letter once week Jack and I checked for them everyday. Mama took it the hardest, it had been three months since he left and we could still here her crying in her room at night.

When I couldn’t sleep through the night I’d go into Jack’s room. He didn’t sleep through the night much more often than Mama did. At first he didn’t like me coming into his room, he thought I was invading his space. Eventually he got to the point that he almost expected me to come in.

“Jack,” I whispered standing at his door looking in through a crack, “Jack, are you awake?”

“Cali, again?” Jack whined, but I could tell he didn’t really mind

“Jack, please,” I asked, “I can’t stop thinking about daddy, how long until Christmas?”

“Come here Cal,” He scooted over so there was room in the bed, “It’s only September, Christmas is in December.”

“Do you think daddy will really come home?” I ask taking my spot next to him, “I mean he promised he would, but he hasn’t said anything in his letters about it yet.”

“Cali Jane, he will be home when he gets home,” Jack paused and yawned, “Go to sleep now. We can talk more in the morning.”

“I miss him Jack,”

“I do too Cali, I do too,”

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