This I Believe

Channing - Manhattan, Kansas
Entered on February 1, 2007

Last Tuesday was a bad day. Our beloved dog Skip had been throwing up daily since last summer, and Tuesday we were putting him to sleep. All the kids knew something was wrong. “Is Skip going to die today?” My youngest son Cameron would ask. “Maybe, Honey,” I would say. “We are going to talk to the vet.” Actually, my husband was the one who was suppose to come home early from work and do it. He had promised because I couldn’t. I loved Skip too much. I had walked him, fed him, played him. Basically Skip was mine. 2:00 pm was the appointed time that my husband would come home early from his job and do the deed. He is a physican that works for an Army helicopter unit that is deploying to Iraq in September. It is his job to make sure that the pilots are physically ready to deploy in September. He is a very busy man…but I needed him to come home and do this.

2:00 came and went. 2:15, 2:30. Finally the phone rang. “Where are you?” I said. “You’re late”. “I can’t” He said…”I just got a phone call. The army has decided to stop-loss me. We can’t get out in June. They are going to deploy me in September for a year.” I was in shock. How can they do that? The stop-loss program is a little talked about program that keeps military soldier in the military beyond their commitment. Our commitment is soon over! We’ve done our time in the army. It’s not like we were even going that far. We are in the process of transferring to the Air Force so that we could be closer to our family. I think I was in shock. “But you need to come home and take care of the dog”.

It wasn’t going to happen. I had to take the dog to the vet, and I had to explain to the kids that Skip was put to sleep, and I had to explain that we were staying in Kansas for two more years because dad was leaving to Iraq.

“Does Dad have to go to Iraq for sure?” My 9 year old asked me. “Maybe”, I said. “But you said MAYBE Skip was going to die, and he did. And now you said “Maybe Dad is going.” Now Dad is going to die too.

It’s been a week, and I really miss Skip. He always was right there by my feet. Waiting for cues from me about what is next. “Are we going on a walk?”, “Are we going to pick up the kids?”, “Are we going to eat?”. The interesting thing I noticed is that the kids are watching me for the same cues. “Is everything going to be ok?”

I believe it is. Maybe we aren’t moving this summer, maybe Tim is going to be gone for a year, but I believe he will return safely to us after 12 months in Iraq. And who knows, maybe we can start looking at puppies.