In three days Becky will have her heart broken. In a month she will have it broken again. In three days Eli leaves for a month of training and instructions. In a month he leaves for Iraq. So Becky has to say good-bye to him twice. It is going to be tough.

Becky and Eli have dated for six months. This is their second time around, they dated a few years ago too. Eli has become a fixture at my house. If he isn't there when I come home from work he will be there before the evening is over. Eli is 18 years old...age-wise he is a man, mentally he is a man...but to me he is just a kid. A kid who is going to war.

I have known a few people who went to Iraq. I know their names and their faces, but they are not a part of my life. This time it is different. This time it is someone I have grown to think of as part of my family, someone who is the most important person in my daughter's life. This time Becky is going to suffer.

Spring is graduation time, Becky is getting ready to leave high school behind and move onto college and start her independent life. But I know Eli is never far from her thoughts. She is excited to graduate, but she is also hoping that Eli will be able to get leave and come watch her walk across the stage. She is excited to move to Chicago and start college, but she is also hoping Eli will get to come home for a week in the summer to visit her. It is hard to move on with your life when the person you want to be with is in danger in a war zone.

I have had many people ask me if I think Becky and Eli will stay together through this next 14 months. I don't have an answer for that. My best response is that they are going to try...what more can they do? Becky can't go to Iraq to be with Eli and Eli can't go to Chicago to be with Becky. No more will they spend the evening on my couch, always some part of them touching the other...legs side by side, holding hands, her head on his shoulder. Now the best they will get is the sound of their voices over the phone.

Both of these kids have a lifetime of adventures ahead of them, be it together or thousands of miles apart. I can't see into the future to tell the outcome, but I know what I would want to see if I could. I know what they want to see in the future. But most importantly, we all want to see Eli come home.

date May 3, 2009

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