There’s a black tough-box in my garage with military gear haphazardly thrown in. The gear has been pulled from our basement to fulfill it’s purpose and now it’s waiting, just like me. It’s waiting to be carefully packed this weekend by my husband because it’s leaving this week to head to Afghanistan. It will have it’s few months of waiting in a box until it’s opened when he gets in theatre, and I will have a year of waiting here at home. It’s waiting for this deployment to start, just like I am. The waiting feels deadly, like the steady anticipation of the click-click-click of a roller coaster before it flings you downhill at 100 mph.
The countdown is on. Click, click, click… Each day here flies by, and our deadline comes closer and closer. I thought I was ready. But is anyone really ready? This isn’t our first roller-coaster ride, we’ve been down this road twice before. We’ve had more than our fair share of of dwell-time and I know it’s just his time to go. For every one moment that I think I’m okay with it, there’s another moment that has me wanting to stamp my foot and say “not again.”
That clicking is already banging loudly in my heart. I watched the news this morning to see a helicopter down in theatre and I wanted to cry for those aviators. A few months from now, I’ll be crying because that might be my aviator. I had to switch the channel before the boys saw it. So much for my habit of watching the news while the kids get ready for school. I’m watching as the dates on our family calendar are going from play dates, family vacations and weddings to predeployment briefings, care-team training, and farewell balls. My mind is spinning with to-do lists like updating the life insurance and our wills. My heart pounds as the weeks start to slip by faster and faster… click, click, click, click.
Aaron is old enough to understand what’s going on now, and it makes it so much harder. His old concerns about the transformers shooting dad down have evolved to much more realistic fears. A few weeks ago, he asked me what we were going to do when daddy crashed his helicopter. He said that his daddy shouldn’t have been able to survive the landmine from his first time, what would keep him safe when he went back this time? All I could think was that my seven year-old shouldn’t know the fears I keep silently tucked away in my heart. But he has those same fears too. We were just so lucky that first time. Deployments have the power to suck the youth and innocence from a child and I kind of resent it. Ok, maybe fully resent it.
Click, Click, Click… We’re climbing the first hill slowly and surely. The sound brings to mind Russian roulette and all I can do is hold Jason a little tighter, and make these last weeks a little sweeter so that we’ll both have the memories to hold onto once this roller coaster takes off. So as for that box of gear, you just sit there a little longer. You’ll have him for a year, but he’s mine right now.