Deployed This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

My face was wet with tears as I said my final good-byes to my father. I tried to hold on, not to let go. I wanted to somehow keep him here with me. My heart pounded, rattling every bone in my body as he picked up his bag and began to walk toward Gate 6B. How could they do this? Didn't they realize that he may never come back? Desperately, with every fiber of my being, I wanted to speak to them. I wanted to ask them how they could risk my father never breathing the sweet Iowa air again. Didn't they know that they were ripping my family to shreds?

The drive home was silent. My mother stared blankly at the road. My sister had that dead look on her face the whole time. My breathing was uneven as I held back tears.

I wondered if they had ever been there, been to the place he was going. I had watched the news. I knew what it was like. I had seen the soldiers who were missing limbs because they hadn't been able to ­escape the fury of the explosions. Oh, I knew exactly where my father was going, and I knew he might not ­return.

We tried to keep our routine the same; it eased the pain of the hole in our lives. My sister and I went to school and our youth group, and my mother woke us up for church every Sunday. And every Sunday, there his face would be, posted in the bulletin under “Keep Them in Your Prayers.” Every time we saw his photograph we would leave church in tears. We prayed often. We prayed at church. We prayed with neighbors. We prayed with each other. All I could hope was that God could hear me.

My sister dealt with it silently. She was quiet even before Dad was sent away, so we didn't notice much difference. My mom took the same approach as I did; we stuck to our routines. I guess that's the only thing that kept us sane. Dad called almost every two weeks. It was nerve wracking waiting to hear from him, but any wait was worth those ten-minute calls.

Four months into his deployment, we got a call from my father. A suicide bomber had hit his SUV. There had been six soldiers with him. One man burned to death. Two died on impact. Two sustained severe injuries and burns. My father walked away without a bruise or cut. He survived a deadly crash without a scratch. God had heard me and He answered. I knew that this moment would forever be embedded in my brain, a perfectly clear memory that I could summon at any time. My outlook on Dad's deployment was permanently altered. I knew that God was watching over him and would bring him home safe.

My face was once again wet with tears as we pulled into the Omaha Airport parking. My hands trembled as I opened the car door. Dad was safe and coming home. It felt like we waited a century for his plane to land. When I saw him step through the gate, my legs almost gave out. Finding the strength to move, I ran to him. I breathed in his smell and felt the rough canvas of his uniform and knew that once again my family was complete.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Jeanne said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

Sweetie, I went to high school with your father, so I was priveledged to read what you wrote.

It really touches the heart, makes an impact, and I believe that everyone who will read it will remember it for all of their days.

As a writer myself, I think you have something there.  Perhaps you'll become one of your generations important voices.

Keep up the amazing work, and thank you for letting us all see into your world.   Jeanne

 
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