"Hey, Dad, this is David. I'm back in the US."
With that simple greeting on the phone on Friday afternoon, a huge weight lifted from our family's collective shoulders. My oldest son was back from his second (and final) tour in Iraq, a 15 month time away from his wife, three kids and the rest of the family that was truly an ultra-marathon.
His wife Susan was there to greet him at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. The two of them will spend about a week there enjoying much-deserved and much-needed time alone. He will be released for 30 days of block leave on Sunday, January 6, when they will drive back here. On January 8, we'll celebrate Christmas. And what a celebration that will be.
It has been good to talk to both David and Susan in the last day or so. As my wife put it "They have their happy voices back." I've been amazed and encouraged by the maturity and depth with which the two of them have handled this challenging phase of their lives.
Along with Susan's parents and a few other helpers, we are taking care of their kids while they are gone. Lemme tell you, the effort of a full day on Saturday caring for twin boys who are not quite 4 and their 18 month old little sister was enough to rival any 20 mile training run with hills and heat. There is a good reason most babies are born to people in their 20s!
Plans for David will have him back in Colroado for a few weeks in February to finalize paperwork and then he will be honorably discharged, having fulfilled his Army contract, with a year extra included due to this deployment. Building on his experience as a Medic, he'll be going back to school and getting a Physicians Assistant degree over the next 2-3 years.
It's great to have him back. Rejoice with our family. Everyone persevered.