He held her close, feeling her tremble as sob after sob ran through her body, each one ripping his soul apart. Little hands hugged his legs, as tears of non-understanding covered the face of his daughter, as she looked up to him. Jess knew he had to go; it was his job, it was his career. Both of them were from army families, where such scenes of parting had happened many times before in past years.

Slowly they parted, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, knowing Dave must not leave seeing her this way. "Do the job love, and come home safe," she told him, trying to smile.

He smiled back, lifting their still crying daughter. He hugged her close, trying to let his daughter know how much he loved her.

"Now you take care of Mummy while I'm away,Claire!"
The young girl smiled through her tears and hugged her Daddy one more time

Then picking up his bag, he kissed his wife one last time, then turned and left the two women in his life. Not once did he turn or look back at the waving figures, for him and his wife both knew if he did it would be too much for their aching hearts.

The early days of the war brought messages and the odd phone call, she wrote to him every day, telling him all the news she could think of and just let him know how much he was loved and missed.

Then the move forward started. There was news of battles and casualties. Every minute she could, she watched the stories unfolding of the conflict.

The days went by. She waited, trying to get on with her life, sharing her thoughts with her family and those others around her who knew the same worries and feelings. One morning she received the news. His patrol was lost, missing, a small group isolated from the main unit. Like many others she found herself that night at the local church, praying for him to be found, to come home.

A week went by. Reports of success after success, were headline news every day. What could only be the beginning of the end filled the airwaves. Then came the news, the news she had hoped and prayed for. They had found him and his missing patrol! Found him, and now he was coming home.

That had all been in the past. Now she and her family were at the airport, standing, waiting for the plane to land. That great silver bird that was bringing Dave home, back to her.

Slowly the rear doors of the cargo plane opened, a group of grim faced soldiers filed slowly down carrying a flag draped casket.

Yes he was home, home to her, home to a country he had given his life to serve.

© Barry Eva December 2003