Today I woke up feeling loved, feeling thankful to be alive. I had just received an email from my husband Oz. Although it was brief, it stated lightheartedly that he wanted to let me know that he still had all of his arms and legs. To be blunt there was another incident near him and he wanted to let me know not to worry before I saw the news. I am always thankful for his selfless acts such as these. That small piece of information ensured me I could relax a little. Of course the thought of how many times it has come close to him worries me, but I also know that he is a smart, quick thinking man who will do whatever it takes to get home to us. While our men and women are fighting for us, those of us they have to come home to are constantly battling our own fears of what could be. My husband truly believes in "no one left behind" and as I believe this to be a major source of some of his anxiety and post traumatic stress, it leads him to his journey home to us. Home is where we are waiting and praying for a safe arrival.
The separation never gets easier. Are we able to grow and cope with becoming a single parent over night better? Yes. Are we finding it a little easier to sleep at night? ...NO. My husband and I often speak of how sleepless our nights have been. We always lay in bed and talk about our day before we fall asleep, and without the comfort of him there listening (or sometimes snoring lol) I find it virtually impossible to fall asleep. Instead I exhaust myself until I have no choice but to fall asleep. All of us have those days where we wish we could just lock ourselves in our room and hide. I just keep reminding myself that just as he must stand up and fight, so must I. Although my battle not as trying, it is one that I fight for our family. We have all had those days where the kids have pushed every button, dogs are barking, and everything breaks. Just when it seems like all the broken cannot be fixed, he calls, and for a brief moment all of the stress just melts away. It is then that I remember what he is doing. Maybe last night he didn't sleep at all because the enemy decided to launch rockets into the base he is living on, the only place you think he has some safety. All those sleepless night will never amount to his nights haunted by nightmares of the past or present.
The one thing that keeps us all alive in this trial of life is hope. Hope remains strong in a military families hearts. "I hope he can call" , "I hope he made it safe to the base", "I hope he misses us", "I hope everything is going to be ok when he comes home". How many of us nearly put ourselves out of commission stressing over the things to get done? Things like making sure his car is up to date with registrations, inspections...the things that he most likely took care of himself when home. Making sure everything is picture perfect at home, ceiling fans dusted, filters changed, grass mowed, cars washed, garage cleaned. After all, these are the things the FRG suggest for us to do so they can better enjoy their welcome home. I often find myself stressing out if it rains for 3 days in a row. This means I have to start a few things over, and do I have time to get all of this done, take care of the everyday things, and keep my sanity. No. But is it worth it that I lose my sanity for the next 10 days to ensure that our family has a happy start for the rest of our future? Yes.
When the Army has been your family for the past 16 months, suddenly a task as simple to me as washing the dishes can become stressful to him. Especially if you are like me and reorganize all the time. This making it harder for him to know where things have been kept for the past year.Once again this is a trying time. Those of us waiting at home must become more patient than ever and compromise if he wants to put the spatula in the 3rd drawer instead of the 2nd. It is more important that we learn how to be together again. Taking a break from every day life chores and getting to know each other all over again...something a million miles and limited 5 minute phone calls should never come in the way of. Learning how to love each other again for the "new" parts of you that have changed is hard. In fact it is something most people do not survive. But how in the face of the enemy do we just throw in the towel? As a soldiers wife I will stand up and fight. There will be no surrender when he is standing there in front of me. For me it is all or nothing. My husband doesn't always like this about me when it comes to other matters, but matters of the heart are not ever figured out easily. Never once has my husband come home the same man that left. I know that I have grown and changed. One thing that I am always thankful for is that he always comes home.
This deployment has proven difficult for Oz. An amazing man, husband and soldier that Oz worked with was killed in battle. He found out when he was attending a "fallen soldier" ceremony. For 3 days he was angry, sad, confused and upset. Why? Of course he was deeply saddened. But he couldn't tell me until the family had been informed,which he respectfully understood. By the hints he gave me through our conversations I began to piece things together. I worked with his wife at one point and we had been to a dinner together. So he began to talk about those times, and to ask me how she was. I hadn't spoken to her in ages. When I went to look her up (we were friends on mypsace) I saw everything had been deleted. Instantly I knew. I typed in her husbands name in google and there it was. His military report on how he was killed in battle just days before. Oz and I were by no means best friends with him and his wife. They are however, amazing people. Everyone around them could always feel the love they had and shared. Your heart sinks when you see just how close to home war comes.
Anthony and I say a prayer for Oz every night. "Dear God, keep my Daddy safe, help him shoot the bad guys, tell him that I love him, tell him that I miss him and bring him home soon. Amen, thank you Lord." (Anthony is 4 and made this up himself) Once again, it gives us hope. When time becomes the enemy that keeps you apart, you hope. Hope for that 5 minute phone call, or that simple email. And hope that soon they will begin the end of their journey, their journey home to you.