"Why does my Daddy always have to go away?"
"He has to go help keep us all safe. When he goes, he lets other daddies stay with their children."
"But why do my friends always get to have their daddy home?"
"They have different jobs. Their job is to keep us safe here. Everyone plays their part. It's just how it works."
"I wish he were with us all the time."
It's never easy to say goodbye, no matter how often you've done it.
Your heart still squeezes. Tears still prickle your eyes.
You try to stay brave. You don't want his last moments with you to be sad ones.
You reassure him that you'll be fine. Really.
You hug him and breathe in his scent. Old Spice mixed with a kind of woodsy smell. You tell him to stay safe. Don't be the hero. There are kids at home who need him. He agrees, but you both know if it came down to it, he'd be the hero. It's how he was trained.
You say one last I love you. You watch him walk away. He always does one final wave before he goes.
Then you're left with the kids. You squeeze their hands and say it'll be okay.
And then you start counting down the days until your family is complete again.