We knew it has been coming. Since the day we got our orders to Fort Drum, we knew our time together was limited, that Jason would be leaving us again for a tour overseas. We’ve known the date. We’ve known the location. But somehow I forgot how this really feels.
I feel the countdown weighing on me like a ten-ton boulder that refuses to budge out of my stomach. Tonight, one of our best friends kissed her husband good-bye, and I know we’re next. After all, at our farewell bbq, Burt hugged Jason and said “See you in 6 weeks.” It was like someone slapped me across the face with an ice-cold rag. It got very real, very quickly.
We’ve known for 6 months that he was leaving in the fall. I keep hoping fall will hold off, that the days will go a little slower, or perhaps the weeks will simply add in a day here and there. But no such luck. Here in the North Country, fall comes sooner than other places, and this year is ringing true. All around me, I see trees exploding in reds and yellows. Even Mother Nature is counting down. It feels like each leaf that turns is another peice of sand slipping through the hourglass. The trees seem to be ticking time bombs, reminding me that it’s coming. Quickly. Instead of relishing these beautiful colors that the North East is so famous for, I’m cursing each leaf like it’s a traitor. I know that once they’ve all fallen, Jason will be gone.
So in this crazy mix of emotions, I’m wondering where my deployment mode has gone. Jason’s been home for 4 years. He’s been my buffer to the outside world for 4 years. He has changed the oil in the cars, ran errands, tagged-teamed diaper duty and killed those horrid little fiends we call spiders. He has held me at night and kissed me in the morning, and now I have to remember how to breathe without him. Once upon a time, I knew how to function solo, but I have this fear that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here.
Where did this chick go? This girl who held a full-time job, raised two kids, ran an FRG and kept her sanity? Where did she run off to? Perhaps the biggest question is: Will she come back? Am I doomed to keep searching for her under my bed? Of course I remember the last two deployments. I remember the loneliness, the smell of his t-shirts in ziploc bags; I was so scared to lose the smell of him. I remember crying as I changed the sheets after he left, thinking that he’d slept here next to me. I remember the moment about ten months in when I reached my hand across his pillow and realized that I couldn’t remember what it felt like to sleep next to my husband. I remember the phone call that August morning telling me that Jason had been seriously wounded. But as much as I remember, they feel almost like they’re someone else’s memories. Maybe it’s like labor, where you remember that it hurt like hell, but can’t remember the exact pain.
So, with this deployment, now I have these four little boys. Boys who are depending on me to get them to sports and school and life. So I’m hoping that my deployment mode is found quickly, because I can’t afford to stall out once Jason steps on that plane.
Perhaps I should wander my halls, and dig my “battle book” out of storage as I call “Here chicky, chicky, chicky….” to this strong willed girl I know is around here somewhere. Yeah. Somewhere.