I guess it's kind of cool to be able to peg the worst day on something with an end date. A happy end date. There are some wives(and husbands, for that matter) that aren't so lucky. Some wives get half a man back. Some wives get dog tags and a flag.
While I am so glad I've got a nurse in camo and not a gun slinger, it doesn't make them, the military medical community, immune to/from the danger. It makes me sad to hear Sean talk about how he got used to the background noise of mortar rounds and jet engines. I also get a little queasy when he talks about the day being in a war zone all became very real to him. That's a post for another day, I suppose.
This week brought news of another of our friends "joining the club." I can't reflect much on his part, but the other half of him being left behind with a baby, I get. She's joining my club. It's kinda weird getting that tasking letter. It's almost exciting in a "now we really belong" way, until you realize, I was okay not belonging.
my favorite photo ever, courtesy of my boy, Simon
Their story will be their own, though. People can only empathize to a degree. No one can know your exact thoughts and feel your emotions. I have read a few military wive's blogs that seem to think they can. Haughty, know nothing wanks. I hope I don't come across like that. I speak only from my point of view about our story. I hope my words never portray anything different.
I can't believe it's been a whole year. He's been home less time than he was gone. People can say what they want about six months(or in our case, almost 7...194 days), it's a long time. 194 days of feeling this constant helpless, anxious feeling. It always hit me at the weirdest times. Like in the middle of T's birthday party when I realized I forgot to mop the bathroom floor. Or noting the time difference, imagining what Sean might be doing at that exact moment and knowing I had no control over any of it. It was a true test of faith.
It was long enough for me to make a ton of friends.
To do the taxes. If that seems simple to you, move three times in one year.
It was long enough to teach a kid to read and tie his shoes.
To grow in two front teeth, Simon, not me.
To watch a kid go from a crawler to a walker, a puree eater to a cheeseburger eater.
To celebrate a first birthday alone. To watch a 30th birthday go by, uncelebrated.
To celebrate an anniversary alone. And Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and and and.
It was long enough to have a few out of state guests.
To finish out a school year.
To make a house a home.
It was long enough for me to figure out what this military life is all about.
To get really acquainted with the postal workers.
It was long enough to master a customs form that included an APO address, no small feat, I assure you.
Nobody tells you how it's gonna be. Everybody has their experiences to share, but none of them are personal to you. It's something you have to do all by yourself. It was nothing like they show in the movies. I Skyped with Sean twice during his entire deployment. It was weeks before I was able to even talk to him on the phone. It sucked.
While I knew he was safe, it was really hard not hearing from him for days in a row. If they shut down communications, which was VERY often, I wouldn't even get an email. It was easy for my brain to go to the worst possible scenario.
Looking back on it and knowing we'll have to face it again in the future...it is what it is. It was good for us, for our marriage. I can't say it was good on the kids. How can it be good on a kid to not have their dad around for that long? When he got back, they didn't go to him to for anything. Not to tie their shoes, not to get them something to drink, nothing big, nothing little. It's still like that to some extent.
It brings a feeling of wanting to smash somebody's head in for make a snide remark about soldiers. On one hand, you want to join in on the never-ending war rants, but you feel disloyal. You want to hate Bush for getting us into this and Obama for keeping it going. But then you're just like everybody else. If you follow the group think, it becomes less yours. Every soldier's story becomes a part of you. Hearing about a military funeral or reading about a widow makes you hold your breath and give thanks that it's not you. It's a fine line between sympathy and empathy. You avoid the news, but like a car wreck, you just have to watch sometimes. I found reasons to go to the base, just to be around people in uniform. The boys haircut schedule during the deployment was spot on. They never had a hair out of place. I still get nostalgic every time I pass by the barbershop.
With all the negatives, there were a few good things about it. We were filled with an awesome sense of patriotism. The pride of knowing a tiny piece of us is in that flag now. We made our own support system and have developed a sense of family among these people we call friends. Our lives will forever be entwined with some pretty amazing personalities.
Deployment is a whole family thing. A whole community. Knowing a soldier, be it family, a friend, or even just an acquaintance makes it matter. The war is entirely personal.