The Damn Tear-Jerking Doll

It seems I can’t escape the emotional roller coaster that wants me to ride it over and over and over again.

Yesterday I went to Ft. Lee with my mom. Because my dad was retired Army, she had paperwork she needed to complete after his death and she asked me with her to the casualty assistance office to finalize the everything with my dad’s passing. My mom told me she wanted me to come along for moral support, and to help her ask questions if she needed something clarified. The whole process seemed pretty cut and dried ~ at least I thought it was.

We sat in the office with Mrs. Hicks. She was a lovely lady who knew how to go above and beyond in order to help my mom with questions, concerns and the whole process of transitioning from the title of spouse to that of widow. As we finished with all of the paperwork signing and question answering, we got up to head to a different office, to ask different questions. Before we could leave the office, Mrs. Hicks stopped at a giant filing cabinet. She opened the bottom drawer and asked my mom if she had any grandchildren as she pulled this doll from her cabinet.

I thought to myself as I looked at it, Oh, how silly. We don’t need dolls. 

I told Mrs. Hicks so as I said, “All of the grandchildren are teenagers. The youngest is 13. I don’t think we need any, but thank you.” 

And then I looked at the doll. I really looked at the doll. In the space where the face is pictured was a little piece of paper that said, “Please remove and replace with a picture of a soldier you miss.” The tears came unbidden as I took in the true meaning of the doll. It’s for children whose soldier parents are now gone. I pictured my dad’s face in the spot where the paper was. I pictured Zach’s face in there as he prepares to head to Virginia Military Institute and will have to decide whether a career in the military is for him. I pictured the thousands of faces of soldier parents who aren’t coming home. And the tears fell. Unexpected and unwelcome tears. That damn doll nearly broke my heart. All because of its true meaning.

These past weeks have been harder than I could ever imagine.

And the coming weeks will be harder, but in a different way. I have to say, “Farewell,” as I pack Zach’s belongings and take him to his university where he will have untold opportunities, both academically and personally. I’m excited for him. I truly am, but I am going to miss his sweet, smiling face and man-child ways.

The doll. It brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart, but I know it’s a good thing. The damn tear-jerking doll. It’s a new little treasure in our house and in our hearts.

Oh, for the love of my children….

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