This is what it feels like to send a son to war.
In a parking lot at Fort Hood, Texas, I stood with my family as we gathered to say farewell to my youngest son, a first lieutenant in the United States Army, as he prepared to deploy to an undisclosed location in the Middle East. Even though we were smiling with pride, our hearts were already breaking. I held it together for the send off, but I fell apart after we got back to the hotel.
Deployments are not new to me. Twenty-four years ago, I sent my husband into harm’s way when he flew fighter jets in the Air Force. I wrote about our experience in two national publications (Family Circle Magazine and Military Times), and a fictionalized account appears in my first novel, The Final Salute. Back then I had to be strong as I had two young sons who depended on me for everything.
But sending your beloved husband on a deployment into harm’s way is different than sending your precious child. The photo of me hugging my son is all the explanation one needs to understand why.
Even as I embraced my son for one more hug, I already missed him.
Kathleen M. Rodgers
Author's note: The photo of me embracing my son was taken by my oldest son's future wife, Brittany McDaniel. I had no idea the camera was on me until later when Brittany sent me the image via text message. I am forever grateful to Brittany that she captured this emotional moment. I am working on my third novel-in the beginning stages-and my protagonist has just sent her 19-year-old-son off to war. On the drive back to Fort Worth, I kept thinking in real time about sending our son off and about the first chapter I've already written for Seven Wings to Glory. My plan is to pour myself into getting this third novel written during my son’s deployment.