"You live for this week," Heather said, cuddling Noah. "And this year. You don't live for six months down the road." The constant deployments make the future unsettling to contemplate at times. Heather looks toward Ray. "He may very well not be here next year; he could be deployed. So you take advantage of the time you have."
A walk through the corridors of the maternity unit at Fort Campbell's Blanchfield Hospital finds many who share that outlook as they gaze upon their newborns.
Tiny Cheyenne Hancock was in her father's arms for much of the first few days of her life. "I don't want to put her down," said Warrant Officer Jason Hancock as his wife, Brandi, looked on. He, too, will leave for Iraq not long from now, his fourth deployment. He and Brandi had hoped and prayed that they could have their baby while he was home. Cheyenne was an answer to that prayer.
"This is, to me," said Brandi," the most important part for him to experience, her being born. And the first few months of her life."
Jason held Brandi in front of him as he rocked her to sleep. "I wouldn't trade it for nothing, " he said, watching her sleepy smile. "I wouldn't trade it for nothing."
It's a sentiment shared by thousands of soldiers returning from deployment, determined to make the very most of the time they have here at home.