Elle, sitting on my lap with her head out the window, called out as Jan walked away from the car.
He didn’t turn around.
Just a week before, he did the same—walking straight out of our sight without turning back after we made our goodbyes.
I really couldn’t blame him.
You can just imagine how hard it is to say goodbye again to your little girl, who is growing up to be so many things (showstopper of a brat included), not knowing with certainty when you’re coming home. We still don’t know when Jan’s training is going to end, and if worse comes to worse, we won’t be seeing him for the next four months. That’s another four months of no phone calls, no Sunday dates with Elle and missed milestones. (I’m dying.)
It was hard to squeeze all the missed time in the five hours that we were given on Dec. 24, but we had to make most of what we had. I was afraid that Elle won’t recognize his dad, but quickly vanished as she let her Dad carry her right away when they first met on Christmas eve. Elle did need a bit warming up, but before we know it, she was kissing and playing with her Dada’s face.
Jan also finally got to see how big Elle has grown. The last time they saw each other, Elle couldn’t even walk on her own yet and now, Jan needed to chase her around the picnic area and stop her from eating pebbles and grasses from the ground. Haha! He saw too how stubborn Elle has become. (Stubborn doesn’t even begin to explain, really.) Those things, for me, were the best part. Most of my days with Elle are either spent chasing her around and or trying to calm her down before she goes into a full tantrum fit and it’s nice to know that when I talk to Jan about our day, he would now totally get me.
On New Year’s Day, we got to see Jan again. It was a bit a last minute (and I had work that night), but we managed. The trip was more relaxed than the first–the weather was downcast which made for a better picnic, there were less people compared to the Christmas visit, and we got to see them do their formations and their dance presentation. Haha! Elle was also in a much better mood. She spent most of the day in her Dad’s arms as they watched chickens and other wildlife. (Elle loves animals! She ended up mimicking the chicken’s coo for the rest of the day.)
We are grateful that we got to spend time with Jan for the Christmas and the New Year celebration. These trips also helped in reminding Elle how his Dad looked like. Since after the trip, every time she sees Jan’s pictures, she would yell out “Dada, dada” non-stop.
It was so hard to leave. I wish Jan had just hopped in the car and rode back home with us. I know the last two months actually went by quick, but it was anything but easy, and I still don’t expect it to be easy. Elle is learning something new every day; she’s becoming sweeter, more talkative and even more adorable than she is and all I could think about is how Jan is missing one of the best times about having a baby. I need constant reminding that Jan is doing this for Elle, and it will all make sense later on.
While there were so many other things worth remembering about those 2 days that we visited Jan at Camp O’ Donnell–the first time Elle saw Jan, that time when Elle gave her Dad a spontaneous kiss and all when Elle leaned on her Dad’s shoulders while trying to fight back sleep–it was the departure that stuck with me.
And you really couldn’t blame me.
(Jan texted me later that day that he had to go straight to the men’s comfort room because he couldn’t fight back the tears. Meanwhile, I had to wait till I got home before I let the waterworks flow. Didn’t think Jan would ever be such a crier! Haha 😀 )