It’s been said, – “If you think being a soldier is tough, try loving one”
I met Joel and Cindy at my church a few weeks’ back. He had just moved his young family to Chicago to be near his wife’s family. You see, Joel will be in Afghanistan for the next 9 months on his second deployment, his first as a husband and father. He knew that Cindy would need all the support he could get her, so he got her set up the best way he knew how before he said goodbye. As a soldier, he knows it is one of his missions to get civilians to a safe zone. As a husband and father, it is the only mission.
This sweet family is now a part of our church community. The church is a family and we count it our privilege to love on and watch out for Cindy and Baby S while Joel serves his country.
Joel and Cindy were introduced in the church service just 2 weeks after their very first Sunday. It was time for Joel to say goodbye. As the pastor interviewed Joel, my eyes were fixed on the brave eyes of Cindy. Fighting back tears with a nervous mini-smile and glance down to the carpet – trying not to break down in front of all these new people. How would she do it? How would she say goodbye? How could she possibly settle into ‘normal’ without him here?
This felt so different than the first deployment – when they were simply a young couple in love.
As deep of love as they had then, now they are knit together as husband and wife. Now they are . . . parents. Parents to a beautiful, brown-eyed baby girl who has no possible framework of understanding why she now has to talk to Daddy through the computer screen. Or why it’s Daddy on the video recording reading her her bedtime story instead of kissing her forehead on the bed beside her.
Will it be enough? Will *she* be enough for baby S? Will she have what it takes to hold her head high, force a genuine smile, and explain for the upteenth time that Daddy is in Af-ghan-i-stan.
And that he loves her very much. All the way to the moon and back.
And that he will be home when his job is done there.
And that he thinks of nothing else but coming back to them.
Yes, I’m a wife. I’m a mother. And as I looked in Cindy’s brave eyes, all I wanted to do was run up on that church stage and squeeze her hand and tell her that *I* will cry with her. That I will stand with her. That I will try to help keep her busy so the days pass more quickly.
I knew immediately, I have a gift to share with this couple. So on September 11th, 9-11 as it turns out, I had the privilege of photographing this sweet family. . .
The brave soldier.
His brave wife.
And the cute little cherub who doesn’t know now -but will someday- just how much courage it takes for both.
I think all of my readers understand my vision for creating this next image. It is a powerful one for me. One that will be pressed in my mind as I live my every day. And count my blessings. And pray for the military families across the world.
Take courage, baby S. Daddy is still watching over you.
Take courage, Cindy. Your man is proud of you.
It is my hope that these family photos will be one of the ways baby S remembers what it is to be held by her father. The way he looks forward to holding her again. To playing ‘airplane’ with her. To making scrunchy faces. And to kissing every inch of those squishy cheeks. Dear baby S, you have an amazing daddy. And an amazing mommy. And you are loved.