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Another Goodbye

Posted on Fri Sep 28th, 2018 @ 5:08am by Colonel Jordon Mason Jr.

Col. Jordon Mason
SDS Security Liaison
&
Caitlin Mason
Wife

ON:
Jordon stretched as he stood up from the seat. The flight hadn’t been that long, but he also wasn’t as young as he used to be. Being stationary in a seat for an extended period of time still seemed to stiffen up his old bones. Not for the first time he wondered how long he’d be able to keep this job up. It was all he knew really. This and ranching, neither of which would old men’s games. He accepted his bag from the attendant. He still hadn’t really gotten used to this treatment. SDS was a generous employer. He knew part of it was they wanted to keep him happy in this job. But still, sending a private jet to take him home while they were off, seemed extravagant. He had intended to just rent a car and drive.

He looked down the ramp and found a Lincoln Town Car waiting for him. The driver standing at the bottom of the stairs tried to take his bag. Jordon held it away, “Thanks, but I already feel too pampered, I’ll take it.” The driver nodded and gave a smile, “As you wish sir.” He said and went to the car and held the door. Jordon tossed his bag across to the other side of the seat, then sat down himself.
-
Caitlin looked up and saw a car coming down the drive. They’d been married years, and she still always felt a mix of emotions when he came home. The kids were always happy to see him, and so was she. But at the same time, he was supposed to be retiring. Staying home, helping raise the kids. She didn’t need a man, she was a strong independent Texas woman. But she did marry a man, and she wanted him home more often. The car stopped, and she saw him getting out, she couldn’t help but smile. She was just about to yell to the kids when the dog started barking, who needed a door bell, the dog told them when anyone was anywhere near the house.
-
Jordon thanked the drive and shoved the tip money he’d been trying to give him back into his pocket. Apparently SDS provided everything, and the driver wasn’t allowed tips. He turned just in time to avoid getting knocked over by two little balls of energy and their furry compainion. He dropped his bag and grabbed a kid in each arm. Unfortunately, this left him defenseless, and his face was assaulted by a slobbery dog tongue. “Alright, alright, alright.” He said standing up still holding his kids. “Careful or I might think you missed me.” He said teasingly.
-
“We wouldn’t want that, now would we.” She said from the front door. This was part of the reason she didn’t mind him being gone sometimes. The kids never seemed as excited as they did when he came home. The happiness it gave her to see them like this was nearly over showed by the sorrow she felt when they came to her crying cause they missed him.
-
Jordon smiled, though he could read her well enough to know that she wasn’t feeling as much happiness as the kids were. He walked towards her, his faithful sidekick still trying to jump up to give him kisses. He obviously felt left out, he hadn’t even been given a good scratch behind the ears. Jordon leaned forward to give his wife a kiss.
-
Caitlin leaned back, “I’m not kissing that dog slobber covered face.” She said with a smile. The kids laughed, and she stepped aside so they could go inside, then went and grabbed his bag for him. When she got inside he’d set the kids down and was in the kitchen washing up, though they were still following him.
-
He finished washing his hands and face then turned. He could tell she wasn’t entirely happy, but he also knew the reason. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. Then turned his attention to the kids, and the dog, who was becoming very insistent.
-
Caitlin smiled as he kissed her on the cheek. She never could figure out why even after all these years it still gave her butterflies. She grabbed his belt and pulled him back towards her before he could wonder off with the kids and mutt and gave him a kiss on the lips and pulled him into a hug.
-
Jordon returned the kiss and held his wife until one of the kids squealed and cried “eewwwwww.” He let her go and laughed.
-
She laughed too, this one reaching her eyes. The question of how long he was home this time vanished from her mind. What really mattered right now was that he was home. “Go on.” She said pushing him towards the kids, then swatting his behind when he turned around.
-
Jordon played with the kids and the dog for hours until dinner. Then after they all settled down to play some board games till bed time. They let them stay up an extra hour, but finally Jordon told them it was time for bed. Part of him wanted to keep playing. It seemed like these moments were so rare, but he also knew the entire schedule would be screwed up if they stayed up to long, and they’d long ago had that discussion. He couldn’t just show up, be the fun parent, then disappear again.
-
She smiled watching him take them to bed, their daughter trying to stifle a yawn while proclaiming she wasn’t tired.
-
“Tell ya what.” Jordon said, “You lay in bed and rest your eyes for 30 minutes. If your still not tired, then we’ll find something to do.” She nodded happily agreeing. He tucked her in and went to do the same for his boy. They’d had the “Man of the house” talk awhile ago, and he took it seriously enough that he didn’t argue when it was bed time, he had to set a good example for his sister. Jordon sometimes worried it’d worked to well. He tucked him in, then went to check on his daughter, her breathing had already slowed, and she was obviously asleep.
-
Caitlin headed to the kitchen to do some cleaning. She knew the talk was coming. It was always the same. She tried to postpone it, but it never worked. She heard his foot steps down the hall as he came back. “How long?” she said knowing he was in ear shot.
-
Jordon sighed. They always put it off till the kids were in bed, or out playing, but the question always came. He knew it, and he knew she had a want and right to know, and want to know. It was hard always coming home, then having to leave. He started feeling selfish for coming home, knowing it wouldn’t be for too long. “About a week.” He said knowing he shouldn’t even stay that long. “Maybe a few days less.” He said. It would have been easier on the kids probably if he’d just stayed in Colorado. But he missed them, more this time it seemed.
-
She was quiet for a moment. She was hoping it’d be longer, it was hard on everyone, these short trips. She tossed the towel she’d been wiping the counter with down and went to the fridge pulling out two beers and handing one to Jordon.
-
He took the beer and set it on the counter, she had just turned away, maybe to go back to cleaning. He pulled her closer to him, and wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her close. “I’m sorry.” He said quietly in her ear. “I needed to see you guys.”
-
She took another long pull from her beer but remained silent. She was feeling a lot of emotions right now, and wasn’t sure what to say.
-
He rested his head on her shoulder and just held her. There was nothing he could say that hadn’t been said before. No explanations to give, no excuses. It was what it was. Some would argue he was choosing his career over his family. He often felt like he was. He told himself it was providing for them. They didn’t really need the money. But between what they’d saved, and what this contract was paying, it would ensure they’d be set for a long time, a college fund for his rugrats, as well as emergency funds if something were to happen to him. That all being said, the ranch was doing well, so he also knew he didn’t need to be out there. But with what he’d just been exposed to, he knew SDS wouldn’t let him walk away, not right now.
-
Caitlin just stood letting him hold her, this is what she missed when he was gone, he always seemed to know just what to say, just what to do. She set the beer down and turned around in his arms facing him. “We needed it too.” She said and kissed him deeply.
-
The rest of the week passed entirely too quickly, it seemed like a single night had passed when the confirmation call came that the plane was ready, and the car was on its way. “Come to Colorado.” He said as the thought of leaving loomed. “The house is plenty big, and Mike can run the ranch.”
-
Caitlin took a deep breath and held it. They’d had this conversation, and she’d barely been able to say no. She let it out long and slow. It’d be nice being able to see him more often, the kids had friends here, but they’d be able to come visit frequently. She shook her head though, “We’ve talked about this. You were the one that didn’t want them around you when you came back from a mission, didn’t want them to see you like that.”
-
Jordon remained silent for a moment, it was true, it always took him some time to get his mind back to normal when after a mission, particularly a bad one. “I can stay on base, might have to. I couldn’t be home every night. But we’d be able to spend more time together.”
-
She was silent for a while, before turning and walking to her husband, she put her arms around him, and held him. Somewhere deep down, her being told her it wasn’t a good idea. It would be better to be close, but the kids weren’t ready to be exposed to more of that, their life was good here, they were safe, all they knew here was daddy was out saving the world, slaying dragons. But knowing all that, she still couldn’t bring herself to say no. So instead she remained standing there in silence.
-
Jordon held her close and stood in silence. Her body language spoke volumes. More than words ever could. “No, you were right last time, and you’re still right today.” He finally said. He wasn’t sure if he believed it, but she did, and it wouldn’t be right to try and force her into something while he knew she was struggling with it. He kissed the top of her head just as the breeze through the open windows brought the sound of tires crunching on gravel.
-
She looked long into her husbands’ eyes, and kissed him goodbye, again. She wasn’t sure how many more times she could do this. It wasn’t just his leaving, it was the wondering if she’d ever have the chance to do it again. The next time a black town car came up the drive, would it be him coming home for a visit, or a SDS Officer, coming to tell her he’d never be coming home. “Kids, come say goodbye!” she yelled down the hallway.
-
Jordon kissed her back, and sighed as she called the kids. He gave her a final squeeze, then put on his happy face for his kids. They’d been pouting since he’d told him he had to leave today. The both came reluctantly down the hall, each hugging a leg. There was a knock at the door. Jordon walked/shuffled to the door, it was getting harder and harder to drag them like that, he wasn’t sure if they were getting bigger, or he was getting older. He opened the door and greeted the driver, who briefly looked surprised, but hid it well. “Can I take your bag, Colonel?”
-
Caitlin handed the driver the green duffel bag that Jordon still insisted on using before he could insist he had it. The driver seemed to get the message and took the back to the car, leaving the family to say goodbye. He waited by the car door.
-
Jordon peeled his kids off and knelt down, despite themselves, they were both smiling. They hated it when he left, but both loved the games. He hugged them both one in each arm, holding them long. “Take care of…” he didn’t have to finish as his dog pushed his nose into the mix, causing his daughter to erupt in a fit of giggles. “I know daddy, I will” she said scratching his ears. “And you.” He said looking towards his son, “I know… take care of Mom and Sis.” He said standing a little straighter. “When will I be old enough to go with you?” he asked. “Not for a long time.” He said, “I need you to keep these two in line.” He said placing a hand on his son shoulder. He honestly hoped his son never followed in his footsteps. But he was too young to understand why right now. His son look over his sister and mother, then nodded. He gave them both one last hug and a kiss. Then they both went to join their mother.
-
They’d already said their goodbye, they’d long ago agreed the kids will always get their goodbyes last. It was simpler than them watching the delay until he actually leaves. She gave him a small nod, their own version of goodbye.
-
Jordon returned it, the silent, ‘I love you, goodbye’ he turned and got into the car. He was starting to share her feelings, he wasn’t sure how many more times he could leave.
-
OFF:

 

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