190 chocolate kisses

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190: That’s how many Hershey kisses an Annandale, Virginia boy ate, but not in the same sitting.
One, for each day his dad was overseas on deployment with the Air Force.

3-year-old Sean Dillenburger said he was excited to reach the bottom of the candy jar, something most kids his age would never say. But Sean knows what an empty candy jar means.

“What did we say when there were no more goodnight chocolate kisses?” asked Sean’s mom, Mary Ellen. “Daddy is coming home!” Sean said.

From April 17th until October 24th, Sean’s mother gave him a chocolate kiss every single night. It became their new bedtime routine, while his dad, Major Steve Dillenburger was in Kuwait with the Air Force.

Those 6 months were hard on the entire family, Mary Ellen and their then-5-month-old baby girl, but especially for Sean. “Hearing sean say, ‘I miss my daddy,’ that’s hard,” says Mary Ellen.

So the chocolate kiss routine went on for 190 days, every night before bed, Sean got a Hershey’s kiss. But it turns out, he wasn’t the only one looking forward to the goodnight kisses. “Before he got to eat it we’d take a picture of him and then I’d email it to Steve with a little summary of our day,” remembers Mary Ellen.

And thousands of miles away: “I’d get to work and there would be an email with that a subject line ‘goodnight kiss’ and a picture of Sean,” says Steve. “You don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s gone for a couple of months.”

So while that last chocolate kiss on October 23rd was bittersweet, the real thing can’t be beat. “What’s better, a Hershey’s Kiss or a kiss from daddy?” asked Steve.

“A kiss from daddy,” Sean said, as he hugged his father.

Major Dillenburger also left 190 Hershey’s kisses for his wife.


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