My baby boy returned from his first deployment last Friday evening. Yep, I dont give a rats patootie if he turned 25 while he was away - he is my baby boy.
Five minutes, 5 years or 5 decades he will ALWAYS be my baby boy.
I can't believe how fast the last 6 months have gone, a Christmas & his birthday without him just weren't the same. But as you can imagine I was pretty darn exited about him finally coming home. So excited that I teared up more than once in the time before we went to the airport to meet him....or perhaps that was relief.
I didn't cry when he left. I didn't want him to leave with the image of a tearful Mum imprinted on his mind. He is living the life that he was destined to live, doing what he wants to do & serving his country by doing so. I have faith in that & I wanted him to leave with the knowledge that I am proud of him, not the message of fear & worry that tears would have portrayed.
Watching those boys arrive home, & some of them do seem so very young, I couldn't help but feel for those that had no one there to greet them, & those with babies that didn't recognize their Daddys any more because of the long separation.
Yet between those boys there is a camaraderie, a connection that is special - you can see it, you can feel it. It's not defined by age, race or rank. It is defined by what they have seen & experienced together. I don't expect that there is anything else quite like it in other 'work' environments, but it is a wonderful thing to see.
Fortunately Kieran has the most supportive wonderful fiancée, who seems to be of the same mind as myself. She is also patient & generous, not minding his Mum & family hanging around when I am sure they would rather have been alone. We had a wonderful dinner out at Kerry's parents place & spent a warm relaxed evening catching up.
There were a couple of moments when I felt a bit of a lump in my throat, when I thought back to all that had happened while he had been away. Knowing how the deaths resulting from the Iroquois Helicopter accident here on ANZAC Day & a motorcycle accident that took the life of a solider the next day had impacted on him. Lives lost on home soil - it seems so senseless somehow.
So the baby boy who was born on ANZAC Day (NZ's equivalent to the USA's Memorial Day) has returned safely home. I know I'm as grateful as all get out!