Fast Forward

deploymentHard to believe that it’s almost Thanksgiving! The year seems to have flown by . . .

Tony was promoted to Sergeant while he was over in Iraq and, just a few short weeks ago, he passed his promotion boards for Staff Sergeant. He has to do some continuing education points before he gets his new rank pinned, but I’m proud of him anyway. He was dreading this board because he felt he hadn’t studied enough. He also went through Warrior Leadership Course within a couple of months of coming home from Iraq. For the past year, his battalion has been spending time out on the training ranges. Sometimes he’s gone for a couple of days, sometimes a couple of weeks – but usually he can come home for the weekend. For the past month, he’s been out at JRTC-Fort Polk, LA. How ironic is that? He spent two years there and swore he’d never go back because he didn’t like the post. We shared a few rueful laughs about this training before I sent him off. This stint at JRTC is for an upcoming deployment.

Afghanistan.

The one word that can make me physically sick to my stomach when I think about sending my husband there.

His multi-cam uniforms and matching equipment are in the extra bedroom. New boots. I can’t stand to look at any of it.

I know it’s irrational. I know this dreaded deployment was a possibility when I married him. I was secretly relieved and happy when his last deployment was only to Iraq.

But this is my husband. And that is Afghanistan.

I’ll suck it up and be the brave Army wife. I’ll be outwardly calm. I won’t watch any news programs. I’ll pray every night for him to come home to me, as well as for our guys throughout that country to come home safely to their families. I’ll try to not puke if my doorbell unexpectedly rings between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. I’ll try to not run to the kitchen window and look out at the front yard if I hear a car stop on our end of the block.

I’ll try.

This will be the longest deployment of my life.

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!

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.

Back To The Grind

Mondays make the weekends seem so short.

Mondays make the weekends seem so short.

I made a minor career change and went into a Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), otherwise known as the Recovery Room, instead of going back to the ICU. It’s a good change. I enjoy the pace and the variety of patients. The hours aren’t bad but I am having trouble sleeping at night. I’m a night owl – always have been. Getting up for day shifts for orientation (or my own scheduled shift, for that matter) has been a challenge. Work cramps my style…I enjoyed my “life of leisure”; however, I really enjoy the income more than anything. Tony enjoys my income, too, since he can now sock away his entire paycheck into his savings account.

I miss not having time to get together with my gal pals though. Seems that when I’m free, they’re not; when they are, I’m at work. The drive is about an hour, but I have time to gear up for my shift on the way in and time to de-stress on the drive home. The only thing that sucks: Getting home late enough that I’m not at all interested in cooking when I get home, so I wake up hungry enough to eat a horse.

School has started again and honestly, I hate it. Do I really want this degree? I need at least the BSN – from there, I can do other things, even if they’re not related to nursing. I have trouble getting motivated for class, have trouble making myself do the assignments, have trouble caring whether or not I pass. I’ll fail these two courses….I just honestly don’t give a damn.

Other than that, things between me and Tony are getting better. We chat on Skype a lot and the talks are not as aloof or frustrating as they have been. I feel like we got over this chasm, and while we both will take some time to heal from the hurt, we came out of it stronger instead of our marriage fracturing badly.

Gotta try to sleep…0600 comes much, much too early these days.