Courage Changes

September 30, 2009
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I wiped the foggy window with my sleeve and readjusted my face pressed on the cool glass. The car ride to the airport was the quietest my family had been in weeks. We pulled into the parking garage closest to my dad’s gate. He popped the trunk and got his tan camouflage bags out of the back. Then came the goodbyes. My mom and my two sisters began to cry. It didn’t start to hit us until the final moments that he left. My dad put his arms around us in a group hug. I then saw out of the corner of my eye, a tear on the side of my dad’s cheek. My father, tough as nails, strict army man, was crying. I had only seen him cry twice before, once at funeral. After seeing him so vulnerable, I completely lost it. I began to bawl. My sisters shortly followed. I hadn’t made it a big deal until now.

When my dad announced his probable decision to go to Iraq for a few months, we didn’t actually think he would go. “Kevin you can’t be serious.” My mother joked. His stern face was all she needed to see. My older sister Kayla sat quiet and concerned. Carson, only eight at the time was oblivious to the crucial decision. I was shocked, my eyes began to swell up and my emotions over came me. He was certain that he needed to go; unaware of how much this decision would affect us. Reality began to strike us as the days of his departure inched by.

In the first few months my father left things stayed the same. As the days rolled by, change was upon us and we had no idea. My mother was working a lot more and we were seeing her a lot less. My little sister was always at the neighbor’s house and was never disciplined. My older sister, who just got her license, was forced to be the adult in the days of her youth. I mostly stayed home, and watched my family change before my eyes. My dad called a few times a week, asking us about school and boys and friends. He didn’t really talk about Iraq very much, he told us about the sand storms and how he heard loud noises at night, but that was about it. After three months passed by, my twenty one-year-old cousin went to Iraq too. Our whole family prayed day after day that they would come home safe.

After five long months, my dad was coming home. We sat on a bench in the airport, Carson sat on my mom’s lap and Kayla and I tried, but failed to distract our minds with books. Then at the other side of the baggage claim, we saw him walking in his uniform. My heart raced, and Carson ran to greet him. We all hugged him and cried and laughed, he as finally home. The first week was hard to get used to. Everything had changed and he wasn’t there when it had. He was a stranger in our house and it felt different. After awhile we were back to normal. The life-changing experience had affected us in many ways and I now know my dad’s choice was hard and courageous , I will always respect him for that.

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