Isabella and I had the honor, along with Aunt Julie, Grandma Mary, Papa Steve and friends from Chris's work, to celebrate with Chris and his unit yesterday as they said farewell to northeast Ohio for yet another duty tour in Iraq.
One hundred seventy soldiers of the 135th Military Police unit based in Chagrin Falls, OH left this morning for their final state-side training exercise before re-deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We will get to see Chris briefly at Christmas before he ships off for 12 months. I can't imagine how Julie feels each time Chris leaves for training or another mission. It has to be heart-breaking! I just know how helpless I felt when she and Chris were there together a few years ago. I'm thankful that Isabella was not around then to see the worry in all our faces. Now we are trying to explain to a three year old that Uncle Chris is going to war, but Aunt Julie is here to help.
Isabella doesn't know what any of this means. She just knows that her uncle is not a few blocks away, not on the phone when she calls for him and not with Aunt Julie when we visit.
We'll send letters and photos often and Isabella says she'll draw and paint him plenty of pictures in preschool. She even gave him her "Gentle Puppy" stuffed animal to take overseas with him. Uncle Chris and Gentle Puppy are going to play in the sand for awhile. That she understands.
Blessings and prayers to SSG Christopher Madera and the troops of the 135th MP Unit!
For more on yesterday's moving ceremony, visit: