The State of the Union

Reintegration training done. Check.

Block leave…what a nightmare! Check!

Back to work for Tony. Check.

Tony has his own car (and that weight off of his shoulders). Check!

Tony had a couple of days off after returning from Iraq and then did about 2 weeks of reintegration training. Half-days, pretty easy stuff, easing back into a routine for work. Then came block leave, and we spent 3 weeks of it dealing with the aftermath of the downstairs apartment fire that affected our apartment. I could write a whole blog post about that alone (and I probably will). Needless to say, we lived in a hotel for 3 weeks; the cats stayed with the Gonyeas the entire time (I’ve not forgotten about vacuuming your rug!). We were miserable…the cats seemed to not mind the new digs, although towards the end, Jeeks was getting pretty feisty and scratching at the closed door quite a bit. We have to unpack everything – it’s like moving in all over again, only with 3 times the amount of boxes. Honestly, one box held just one pair of gloves. REALLY!?!

But I digress….

We did a whole lot of nothing on block leave and that was ok, too. Tony is rolling around post in his 2007 Toyota Camry and I no longer have to wake up at 0445 to get him to work. The traffic to the new Brigade complex is pretty hellacious, but I knew that’d be coming. Only two ways into the complex and about 3,000 soldiers who’ll be working there, although some do live in the complex (the single soldiers barracks).

My whole routine is jacked up. I’ve gone back to nights as of 2 weeks ago. When I’m off, I try to nap and be up most of the day for Tony so he doesn’t feel like the only time he sees his wife is when she’s snoring next to him while he’s watching TV or playing on the xbox. So my sleep schedule is messed up, and my housekeeping routine is non-existent. I can’t stand looking at those boxes, but my head hurts at the thought of unpacking them. A vicious cycle, no doubt.

Either today or tomorrow AM, Tony leaves for Warrior Leadership Course. I know he’ll kick ass in the course even though he’s nervous about it. When he puts his mind to something, he easily beats it, and he’ll put his mind to passing this course. He’s still a bit of a pessimist in that he thinks he won’t do as well as I know he’ll do. I’m gonna spend the next couple of weeks getting back into a routine. Cleaning the house (and unpacking those damned boxes!) on my days off a la the FlyLady way (www.flylady.net for those of you who are curious). I have to figure out how to strip the yellowed wax off of my kitchen floor. The linoleum was fine until the fire…grrrrrrr. I want to reorganize the closets since we have everything we own on hangers thanks to the textile restoration folks (or in ….. wait for it ….. BOXES!). His old uniforms will go in the guest room closet as soon as I fix the broken hanging rod. Gotta love Mighty Puty!

I think we’re stronger as a couple now that he’s home than we were when he was deployed. Considering we were only together for about 6 months before he left for Iraq, feeling stronger together definitely sets my mind at ease. He often said that I’d not “like the man (he’s) become” and I’ve repeatedly told him since he’s been home that he was wrong. He’s much more confident, more decisive, takes things more in stride and less in crisis mode reactions, and leaves “SGT Goodwin” at work. I love having my husband back!!

The state of our union: Stronger than ever! Love you, Goodwin! Now kick ass at WLC! ~blows kisses~

HE’S HOME!

So there we were, out on Cottrell Field….

Brandy and I got there a little after midnight since the 0515 ceremony was moved up to 0110. We met up with our awesome FRG co-leader, Caryn Shay, and we put up our signs. The time dragged like you could not believe. FINALLY, we were told that the buses were about 10 minutes away from post, and we ran out to the median just outside of the field on Gulick Ave. Yes, we waved, screamed, clapped, and took pictures as the buses carrying our soldiers rolled past. Then we ran back to the field, impatient for them to disembark and get into formation.

Time

Moved

So

Slowly!

When the first soldiers stepped onto the field, I burst into tears, alternately laughing and crying. Did I put on makeup? A little, but my mascara wasn’t waterproof. Did I remember tissues? Absolutely not. Did I remember my camera? Hell no. 😦 Was the sight of them coming through those trees one I’ll never forget? You bet your a$$ I’ll never forget it! While I couldn’t find Tony in the formation ’cause it was dark, I still held up my little sign and jumped up and down, cheering as loudly as I could while they marched onto the grass. Thankfully, the welcome home speech was short and they were dismissed. I stayed put, ’cause Tony had told me to not run onto the field or he’d not find me.

Well, he didn’t find me anyway! ~LOL~ He forgot my hair was now blonde, I hadn’t realized how much more weight he’d lost. He walked past me at least twice before I shouted, “Oh my God!! TONY!!! TONY!!!!” and waved my sign. Brandy and Caryn had to yell at him ’cause he couldn’t hear me over the din of the rest of the happy crowd. I know, some of you find that hard to believe, but I think I was too choked up to be my usually loud self. Thanks, ladies, for corralling my husband!

He was ready to go as soon as he found me. We got the obligatory hug pic, but he was chomping at the bit to get his gear and get home. Once he got his bags, we piled into the truck and went home. I think he was asleep before his head hit the pillow and I was still fretting about the floors not being mopped. So much for the welcome home romance! ~LOL~ I knew he’d be tired from the traveling – he hates the flights to and from Iraq.

Now we see if we can work through some of our just-below-the-surface issues from our huge blowout in November, or if we go to counseling.

Still, he’s home, and that’s all that matters to me right now.

The “must-have” welcome home pic!

A Bundle of Nerves

6 June @ 2015:

Just hours now and I feel like  I could crawl out of my skin. These past 2 weeks flew by. My house still isn’t perfect, but hey – it’s a work in progress.

Laundry done.

Kitchen and bathroom clean.

Bedroom as straightened as I can make it.

Welcome home signs done.

Bookcases rearranged.

Home decor….boxed. ~ignores it~

Furniture dusted, carpets vacuumed.

What now? Oh yeah, a shower…..back in a bit!

6 June @ 2315:

I’m trying to not pace but damn, the clock is moving slow! I’m dressed, but not dressed up. I’m not a dress-up kind of gal and he knows that. I look nice, but it’s too hot and muggy to get all fancy. I’m debating on makeup – it’ll melt off in the humidity. We’ll see, I’ve got time for that.

Brandy will be here soon, and we’ll head to the field with our signs about an hour prior to the start of the ceremony. Now, if I can just not bite my nails….

Single digits!

Not my donut, but you get the idea.

Not my donut, but you get the idea.

I got the message a day or so ago: First CHALK.

OMG! FIRST?!?! The house isn’t fully unpacked – damned “home decor” stuff and clothes I have no idea what I want to do with ’cause I’ve not sorted them. The bedroom isn’t decluttered (sorry, FlyLady, but I’m trying). The closet in our bedroom isn’t organized. Where did the year go!?

Wait…wasn’t it just a few months ago that I was crying over his leaving? Now it’s May. MAY! Folks weren’t lying when they said the time goes fast when enduring a deployment. I think the time’s gone faster since I’ve gone back to work. Seems I have less time to get things done since 3-4 days/week are spent at work.  I feel like I have a ton of things to get done and now, oddly enough, not enough time to do them. Will he notice? Will he care? Will he just be happy to be home? All of the above? Who knows!

I do know that there’s been very little communication since R&R ended. He’s rarely on Skype and when he is, he’s “only checking messages” and not interested in chatting. Emails? Negative. Forget letters – he told me up front he’s not a letter writer. I hate this part of the deployment. I know this would happen ’cause he did warn me, but sometimes I just want to talk to my husband and I can’t. So I’ll send emails, Skype messages, leave things on Facebook….and wonder if the gets/reads them.

Single digits.

Finally!

Twenty-seven years ago today…

Not my school’s cap, but you get the idea.

May 17, 1984.

Three grueling years of education at the Northeastern Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia, PA has come to an end.

I remember going to our graduation breakfast in the hospital’s cafeteria that was put on for us by the school’s alumni association. We excitedly – and nervously – donned our white graduation uniforms, along with our new white shoes and stockings (can’t have scuffs, dirty laces, or runs today!) and walked as a group of 21 soon-to-be graduates to the breakfast. Upon entering the room, I think we all caught out breath in our throats: The sight of the tea roses as table centerpieces was trumped only by the starched white caps with wide black bands sitting at every place set for us. The alumni rose and applauded us as we walked in and took our seats. I honestly don’t remember much about the rest of the breakfast because I was too busy staring at that cap…MY cap…I know they gave us a necklace with a porcelain rose in the center, a pen and pencil set, and a year’s membership to the NEH alumni association.

We spent the rest of the day getting our yearbooks signed, cleaning out our dorm rooms, visiting with classmates we knew we’d not see after this night ended, visiting with our “little sisters” and wishing them luck over the upcoming year…and looking back at 3 years of our lives that we alternately loved and hated. We hated the monthly Wednesday 0500 fire drills in the dorms when we had to be at clinical by 0700 and we were up all night doing care plans, often not rolling into bed until 0200. We hated doing care plans, drug cards, and dissecting our formalin-soaked cats (poor babies). We loved gaining confidence in clinicals as we gained knowledge from the classroom. We loved that we actually had time to sit and talk with our usually elderly patients. We especially loved looking at the freshmen and junior classes, who looked at us as “the lucky seniors” with our two navy-blue bands on our caps. Surely we didn’t ever look as scared as they did! We loved some instructors, feared others, and hoped that still others would retire before our “little sisters” had to suffer through their senior rotations or classes with them. We loved our profession despite the weekends, holidays, and odd hours we knew we’d have to work.

Now we’re lining up in the dorm’s main lobby, the juniors and freshmen students wishing they were in our spot. Little did they know that we were probably scared to death. After tonight’s graduation ceremony, we’d be graduate nurses waiting to take our state board exams. What if we failed?! What if three years of hard work went down the drain on our first try at the boards?! What if we – God forbid – killed someone with a medication error?! I think we imagined every kind of nightmare while we waited for our “Parade of the Roses” to start…

…and now here we are, walking down Allegheny Avenue to the church where we’d be having our graduation ceremony. Since most of our patients were from the neighborhood – and frequent fliers to boot! – they were out in force waving, cheering, and calling out their best wishes for us. We carried a half-dozen tea roses in an arm bouquet, our caps proudly on our heads, our uniforms standing out white against the blue and white of the students who walked behind us. Filing into the church, we sat up on the alter. We sang a couple of songs really badly (we were never known for our singing anyway), listened to speeches, and were suddenly being called up for our diplomas and school pins. Awards were given out, the alma mater was recited, the school song sung, and suddenly it was over. Maybe 90 minutes max and we were finished.

No more dorm-mates. No more text books. No more Sunday night shifts in the library. No more commiserating with classmates about a rotation, an instructor, or a course that was vexing us.

We were graduates of the Northeastern Hospital School of Nursing. Alumnae. Former students.

None of my instructors are teaching any longer. I’m not even sure how many are still alive. The school has changed and they no longer wear caps. Times may change, and I may change fields within critical-care nursing, but I my heart will always be with my school. Here’s to the NEH SoN Class of 1984, wherever you are!

Having so much fun should be illegal…

Yeah...sure I do.

Yeah…sure I do.

Work.

Feels like that’s about all I do these days, between trying to steal some time chatting with Tony on Skype. Still, I volunteered to pick up the extra days, the extra call shifts, so I shouldn’t bitch too much.

But I’m tired. That means I’m entitled to a little bit of bitching. At least that’s what it means in my book.

The money is good but the hours are bad. I guess all of the work helps to keep me busy. At least I don’t think (too much) about the boxes of “household decor” that I’ve not unpacked yet and don’t really have an inclination to do so. Should I keep all of that Lenox china stuff from my first marriage? I mean, really…should I? Some of it’s pretty, but they were wedding gifts back in 1984….oh hell, I’ll decide tomorrow. Right now, I’d rather take a nap.

We’re on the downhill slide of the deployment. A mere 90 days, give or take 14 days. Aside from that rather nasty patch of endless criticism, anger, and hurtful words, this really hasn’t been as bad of an experience as I thought it would be.

Bring on July! I’m ready for my husband to be home. Gotta go – nap time.

Counting Down…

final-countdown1About 16 weeks, give or take a couple. Nothing is written in stone, nor will it be. Dates can always change, and probably will a few times. That’s ok. I refuse to count months. I’m counting weeks. Work helps time to go faster but I have the feeling that as I get closer to his return date, time will seem to grind to a halt.

One of my friends told me she’s going back home to TN with her kids by August. Another friend – she’s like a sister to me – is having marital troubles, too. I absolutely hate what these deployments do to marriages. I want to fix everything for them, but I can’t. I want to shake their husbands and yell, “SNAP OUT OF IT!” but I can’t. My GA-to-TN pal, her marriage was already strained by more than a deployment, but the deployment was the last straw.

Thinking back to how Tony said that he changes over there, that they all change over there, I wish there was some way to prevent the crazy mindset that tears marriages apart. Financial stress is amplified so much – I know that first hand. This isn’t the best job market area in the state, and Savannah isn’t a big market in the first place.  They get bored, they get depressed, they feel a definite lack of control over things back here. We get depressed, we worry, we try to keep up a smiling face when they call or get onto Skype so that they don’t worry. We minimize things that have us wringing our hands – like finances, the inability to find a job, the really bad sound the truck is making but can’t be fixed until payday. We find ourselves fighting with one another, they withdraw into themselves and we cry or get angry and fed up. They insist nothing is wrong with them, that we read too much into things or we somehow manage to start the arguments. We withdraw into ourselves because we’re too emotionally worn down to fight. Anger flares up – nasty words are exchanged – nothing resolves. Will things get better with reintegration? Who knows? For my friend going home to TN later this summer, that answer is no. I pray things work out for my other gal pal…I’m praying hard for that.

I pray that Tony stays safe. I pray that all of our guys come home safely. I pray that Tony and I can keep things the way they are until I see him on Cottrell Field in a few weeks. I pray that we reconnect during reintegration and that I get my husband back, leaving SGT Goodwin at work and having Tony at home. He can be SGT Goodwin Mon-Fri, 0530-1800, but I want my husband back, asking what’s for dinner and joking about me getting into the kitchen to make the food that won’t cook itself.

I’ll heave a huge sigh of relief when I know his plane is on the ground in Savannah, his bus in on the way back to Fort Stewart, and I see his face on Cottrell Field while I wait impatiently for him to be released from formation so I can run across the field to him. I can only hope that my sis, and the other wives that I’ve bonded with over this past year, get to experience the same thing rather than tears of hurt and anger while their marriages struggle to survive.

Tony, I’ll tell you now what I told you the night I watched you board that bus that took you away from me for a year:

I love you so much. Never forget that, not once, and never doubt it ever. Come home to me. That’s all I ask of you. Come home to me. See you later.