Friday, March 5, 2010

More goodbyes

We have achieved another milestone—our replacements have arrived! We were so excited to see them walk off the plane last week. It brought back memories of that day, so many months ago, when we stumbled onto the tarmac at Bagram, suffering from jetlag but excited to get started with our mission. They have stars in their eyes, eager to implement their ideas and do things their way. I believe our time has been too short, but one benefit is the infusion of fresh blood that re-energizes the mission every nine months.

I have spent the last few days saying more goodbyes. We visited the providers at both the provincial and district hospitals, and thanked them for all the hard work they are doing. It was especially hard to say goodbye to the hospital administrator at the district hospital. He has done an amazing job implementing our Strong Food program for malnourished children, and I wish so much I had a chance to do more with him and his staff. This is us, in front of the administration building at the hospital:

Then, tonight, the rest of our security-forces platoon headed to Bagram for their redeployment. Due to our "hodge-podge" of Air Force and Army members, we have been forced to leave the country at different times, something we had hoped to avoid. We had looked forward to sharing that first cold beer together in Germany on our way home. Much like the last time, we had to say goodbye to our constant protectors. I did get a little teary. These men have taught me much, both about myself and "soldiering," things I could never have imagined needing to know (and, before this, never wanting to know). I respect them immensely and look forward to our paths crossing again.

But, I think I am getting better at this goodbye thing. This time, as they drove away, I didn't cry nearly as hard and I have yet to shed one tear as I write this. Just think, by the time I say goodbye to everyone else at Bagram, it will be "old hat" and I can just smile at the memories as I walk onto the plane! My tears will become the happy kind as I approach home and see those two little humans (and a bunch of big ones, too) waiting there for me!


For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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