I’ve been thinking about duty and sacrifice.
We commemorate it — especially around Memorial Day — and rightfully so. We usually think of it in terms of the ultimate sacrifice made by a member of the military on some battlefield, or a firefighter who races into a burning building.
But sometimes sacrifice comes in smaller measure.
My son, Aaron, is a now a petty officer aboard a U.S. Navy submarine. I won’t give the name of the boat out of security concerns, but my son and his shipmates are currently deployed far from shore and hundreds of feet beneath the sea. He’s a sonar operator who listens for the sounds of ships, other submarines, and a variety of sea life including shrimp and whales.
I’m told the boat’s sonar system has amazing capabilities, but the one noise I’m sure my son would most like to hear are the soft sounds made by his young daughter.
Aaron was amazingly lucky to be home for Zoe’s birth. On a previous deployment, he’d barely tied up at the dock before his wife, Jennifer, went into labor. Little Zoe was born just a few hours after her dad returned from the sea. We were so thankful that Aaron, still bleary from lack of sleep, got home in the nick of time.
He’s not so lucky this time. He’s out of touch, deep beneath the Pacific Ocean for several months as Zoe starts to crawl.
It’s sad, and it’s made me think about all the other fathers and mothers who are missing out.
There are the fathers who can’t be there for the birth of a child. There are the mothers in uniform who can’t be there for their son’s Little League game. And it’s not just the soldier, sailor or Marine, but also the wife, the husband or the child whose family member can’t be home for significant life events.
Theirs is not an ultimate sacrifice, but small sacrifices made a thousand times add up to some pretty big losses.
I guess it’s a small thing, but when you think about it, you realize that you’ll only ever have one firstborn, and she’ll only start crawling once.
I’m sorry you missed it, son, and to you, along with Jennifer and Zoe, I say thank you for your sacrifice.