Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, July 2004:
“I don’t want to go back to Iraq. Look at Emma, she is such a beautiful child. What if I never see her or Leihua again? What if I never make it home?” Sitting in our red Oldsmobile Alero, these questions race through my mind. I hear giggling in the backseat. Turning around, I watch as my oldest daughter plays with her sister. Tears spring to my eyes, and I quickly turn around. My wife grasps my hand, and I take a deep breath. Every second that passes feels like I am slowly dying. No words are spoken. Opening the passenger door, I step out into the hot, Texas air. I lean over and kiss my wife goodbye. “This may be the last time you see her. You had best make it one to remember.” Walking to the back of the car where my daughters are playing, I knelt. Suddenly, tears burst from my eyes. Fiercely, I grab Leihua and pull her close. “Baby, Daddy loves you.” I wanted to tell her that if I didn’t make it home to remember me. The words refused to come out. I slowly made it to where Emma was buckled into her car seat. Peering at my two-week-old daughter, I lean over and kissed her forehead. My goodbyes said, I turn and walk toward the airport.
“Don’t look back, don’t do it. Youwill not get on the plane if you look back at your children.” Sobbing, I slowly make my way to the entrance. An old lady is walking in front of me. Choking back the emotion that threatened to overwhelm me, I move to pass her. She turns and looks at me. Her kindeyes seemed to look right through me. “Son,it is okay. Walk with me. How old is your child?” Reaching out, she hugs me tight. Sobs rack my body and she does not let me go until I compose myself. “Suck it up Freeman! You have a job to do!”Drying my tears, she smiles. “This is wherewe say goodbye for now son. You take care and be safe over there.”
Walking into the airport, the cool air provides a welcome comfort. Wiping my face so that I can convince people that I am a hard charging soldier, I find a bathroom. The warm water cascades through my fingers. Cupping some into my hands, I splash it on my face. Washing the tears from my face, I look at my reflection in the mirror. “You are good to go.” I exit the bathroom and make my way to where I am supposed to meet up with my fellow soldiers. It is then that the thought crosses my mind. Did God send an angel to comfort me?
I have no doubts that God uses angels to deliver messages or to provide comfort to those that are hurting or in need of an intervention. To this day, I am not sure if God sent me an angel to help me get into the airport. However, I like to think that He did….after all, that is what daddies do….