Flyaway Heroine

Cadence and Elaine.

Wife. Mom. Patriot.
My daughter Elaine and our grandson Sawyer are flying home to Hawaii today. They’ve been visiting in California for a month now. The family arrived in a single piece: Elaine, her husband Rob, who’s a chief in the U.S. Navy, older son Cadence, and toddler Sawyer. Rob flew back to Hawaii to return to duty after two weeks’ leave. Cadence will stay in California with his father and stepmom this fall. But now it’s time for Elaine and Sawyer, and not-yet-born Daphne, to return home.
Saturday we drove to San Diego, their hometown and base of operations during this visit, for one last shared afternoon. We dropped Cadence off for a swimming date with a friend, checked on napping Sawyer, then Elaine and I headed off for the salon for her hair appointment; Rich promised to meet us for lunch after Elaine’s haircut.
 Cadence and Me.

Sitting in our favorite San Diego deli, we marveled that the three of us were having a grown-up meal. We usually have the kids in tow, and we like it that way. All the same, we enjoyed our meal unhampered by flung crackers or repeated requests to visit the men’s room.

My daughter told us she may have the opportunity to serve her husband’s command as a volunteer soon. I looked at her. She wasn’t kidding. She’s 35 weeks pregnant, expecting a girl to join the five-year-old and a 20-month old boys. Back in Hawaii, the doctors plan to induce labor a few days early, so this sweet baby girl can be born before her daddy heads out to sea in a submarine, leaving her, and her mommy and toddler brother, home alone.

Oh, he’ll be back–but when he leaves again, that boat is heading for a new home port in Guam. Elaine will have their household goods packed up, then return to California with Sawyer and baby Daphne. If we’re lucky, Rob will join us for Christmas. Then the entire family will leave, off to their new home on Guam. She’s going to be alone with a newborn and a toddler, then traveling with a newborn and a toddler, then establishing a home for her seafaring husband and three children (two in diapers!) on this little speck of earth far, far from home, from family–from me.

And she’s thinking of taking on this volunteer post, because she likes to help other people. 

Me, Elaine, Sawyer (and the Baby Bump!). 

My mother’s heart is about to burst. I was at the hospital when Cadence and Sawyer were born. I’ll greet Daphne in an airport when she’s two months old . . . and my brave girl is going to be far from her family, managing on her own until they return to California. Then she’ll round them up and fly off even farther from family–farther from me.
 Cadence, Elaine, Papa Rich. 

I was dreading this visit–no, dreading its end–and now it’s time to go. We hug, then lean back in our embrace, eyes locked and filling, wordless for a long moment. She reminds me that my new granddaughter will be in her arms the next time I see her and I want to wrap myself around her ankle like a petulant two-year-old, refuse to let her go.

I’m her mother, right? 

But I follow my husband’s steadying lead, hug her close, kiss squirming Sawyer, and stride out the door.  I’m so full of lonely and what-ifs and missing-outs that we’re 30 miles up the road before I beat back the sadness long enough for that other clanging thought to break through:
She is  cheerfully sacrificing for the benefit of her husband, their children, and the U.S. Navy. And she’s stepping forward, willing to do more. 
My little girl is all grown up.
My little girl is a hero. My hero. 

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
Romans 15:1 (NASB)

I’m linking up at Laura Boggess’s place, The Wellspring, for Playdates with God. Please come and play.