5:26 am on a Saturday??? No one in their right mind would be up now except breakfast cooks, delivery drivers, nursing mothers, the guy that makes the doughnuts, service members on watch, and long distance relationships across the globe. Up and at ’em early. My circadian rhythm is a drunken showgirl at the Copacobana. 6:30 would have been our usual Google Hangout time, at the crack of “I can’t even focus on your face until I’ve had some coffee”, and has been our time for the past 7 weeks while my wife has been overseas.
Except…she comes home today! Today we pick her up and the Homecoming begins!
All the dropped calls, the missed connections, the “Oh Crap, plans have changed again. I will call you at such and such if I can” the past 7 weeks are finally over for awhile.
Remember that blog post I wrote about 7 weeks ago in www.militarypartners.org about how confident I was that this was going to be a breeze and I had more than enough plans to be busy? We had already had our year apart and I felt so confident this was going to be a walk in the park. What I failed to add into the equation was that for the past year, we were actually able to see each other every weekend and more (almost like normal married people!) Yeah, that didn’t work out quite that smoothly. I was a big ball of ugly cry more occasions, going back down the rabbit hole of depression more times than I would like to recount in excruciating detail for your amusement. But it wasn’t without some lessons learned.
During the last month and a half time, I’m truly thankful to friends and family. Friends would call; dragging me out to the gym, and to socialize. It was good friends and family who helped keep my spirits up when I struggled to be that “buck up, stoic Navy wife that never cries” kinda spouse, that I see in the flashy magazines. The truth is; it’s always rough. As soon as she is out of my sight, I will fear for her safety. As soon as she is out of my reach, I feel her absence acutely, and as soon as I know (like SO many moments in years past) that I can’t call her when I need comfort, there is someone inside who keeps rising to the occasion, even against protest.
I don’t think I will ever be a Stoic Navy wife, or ever indifferent to her absence, but despite myself, I am learning I have reserves to call upon around me and within. Like Dorothy and her Ruby Red Slippers, it’s only at the end of the road sometimes, where it dawns on me, I’ve been on this journey all along, and we get by with a little help from our friends. (and Chiropractor)
We don’t often realize we have been doing life all along because we are too wrapped up in the drama of our own thinking. It’s like when you were really little and you skinned your knee and had to run home for a band-aid, but right before you got to the bathroom cabinet, you stopped to see how sad you looked crying in the mirror? How absolutely pitiful you were with your skinned knee and frayed dog leash and stupid Nike Roller skates that you thought would be really awesome to go downhill in an alley? No, that wasn’t you, but just me? Anyhoo…
When I look back on this time and all the times I really wished my wife to be there to help me through a situation, I learned that I had plenty of tools already to get the job done. Not necessarily graceful, maybe a couple screws missing, and maybe not without incident, but not too shabby. Groceries still needed to be bought, mail checked for both residences, Taxes done, Tall Ships boarded, Mammograms …um.. “Mammed”, bills paid, daughter cared for and homework micro-managed, and in the interim…Life just kept happening. I wanted it to just stand still and wait for her to come home; not wanting to live one single memory without her, but life still moves forward and we shared our memories through text, and FB messages, and songs we sent to each other whenever we could. We re-capped our day/night and how we did or didn’t spend a holiday or two. Only one of my letters ended up making it to her, but she was so good at sending cards to both our daughter and I. Those hand written letters were a life line that a tangible connection that virtual words will never reach. They held the words I most wanted to hear and I could read them over and over, tracing her writing with my fingers, feel the warmth of her touch in the card.
When she is finally in my arms we will be whole again, but it’s through the really painful separations I know I can hold it together, even in the rabbit hole.