Trash Cans, Photographs and Farewells

“We don’t lick trash cans,” I say to my youngest child. For good measure, I add, “We definitely don’t lick infantry trash cans.”

If the trash can germs don’t end up killing him, his immune system will be stronger, right?   At least I’m not pulling him from the staircase of doom again.


I am done.  I’m ready to get the hell out of here.  My emotions are spent, there is nothing left to say.  The kids are closing themselves in lockers, running in circles, and apparently licking trash cans.

I wander around taking photos of other couples.  I’m still wearing the smoky leather coat the soldier’s father wrapped around me.  I take a picture of his young daughter with her husband, huddled together on the concrete.  I take shots of the baby and his parents, cuddling on a folding chair.  The engaged couple flashes me a big smile.  Two little girls ham it up for me while their daddy rubs their mama’s back in the background. I resist the urge to say, “You guys want one (last) photo?”

I take a few more photos of Ollie, but I am really done.  I love him, I don’t want him to leave, but this is excruciating.  I’ve already said goodbye.

A few hours of this and they announce it is time to go back to the buses.  I can’t repeat that scene.  It is windier now, colder and darker.


“Can we do it here?” I ask.

“Yeah, that’s best,” he says as he scoops up the kids.  This time it is short.  We embrace, kiss quickly.  “See you in a few months!” We say it as easily as if we were just running to the store for a few minutes.

He grabs his gear and heads for the door.  I see him standing there, framed against the night, holding it open for us.  We walk together a short distance before going our separate ways.

I pause to watch as he easily trots away from us on two good legs for the last time.

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3 Responses to Trash Cans, Photographs and Farewells

  1. Diane Slape says:

    That day sucked BIG Time. I remember Fred’s bus loading up before Ollie’s and going back inside with ya’ll. Then coming back out and Fred’s bus had been sitting there for an hour, unable to get off to do anything, waiting on more buses for Ollie’s group. Then they still didnt have enough buses. Fred’s bus pulled out, so Montana and I jumped in the BIG RED truck and followed them to the weigh statiion and til they got off post. Honking All The Way….I didnt know if Fred heard me honking until he called 24hrs later. HE DID! But we circled back around to hang out with ya’ll until Ollie left, just in case you needed a shoulder or the kids needed a sitter (Montana). Rough day for most, harder for many. Love ya girl and I treasure all the “ARMY” days we have shared.

    • Megan says:

      I knew Montana jumped in the car with Ayse to go get the littles, but I forgot about Fred’s bus just sitting there forEVER. After the fake goodbye I was in such a freaking daze… I am so grateful that you were there that day and so many others. Sisters always. 🙂

  2. Keep telling this story!! People need to hear how hard it is for soldiers and their families to be separated.


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