November 27, 2007

“Be strong … I love you”

Editor's note: The post was written Nov. 26, but was too hard for me to post right away. Please be aware I wrote my true, raw emotions and it may be difficult to read.

“Be strong … I love you.” Those are the last words my husband said before he boarded the bus last night

Saturday night I did not sleep very much. I tossed and turned, fought with the puppy for space and covers and tried not to think about what the next 24 hours had in store for my little family.

I awoke at 6 a.m. crying, I guess even in my sleep I was dreading saying goodbye. I buried my head in the pillows and tried not to disturb my husband, but a few minutes later he pulled me close and I realized he hadn’t slept either.

We got up a short time later and went to the living room. For the most part I recall walking about like a zombie, refusing to admit it was time. I made some coffee and we sat on the sofa watching TV for a while, though again I don’t remember what was on. At 9 a.m. he got up to pack his final bags (carry-on) and I headed for the shower so I didn’t have to see it. I blundered around the house, doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen while he poked around for last minute stuff.

He fielded phone calls all morning and again as we headed to lunch at the Huddle House (a knockoff version of Waffle House for those who live in the south.) After burgers and talking about everything but what was happening, we headed to the Post Exchange to find calling cards. I didn’t even notice the Christmas decorations and merchandise, which is unusual for me. I chatted with another spouse whose husband was leave later in the week, but I admit I wasn’t very social and just wanted to get out of there.

We headed back to the house where he loaded his bags in the car, again fielding phone calls, while I watched TV with the puppy. Sgt. Major knew something was going on and kept begging George for attention, which only made it worse.

The time went by fast, which we expected but you still try to drag it out. At 3:30 p.m. he put on his uniform and came into the living room to gather his bags. It was hard to see, I had cried periodically thought the day, but I lost all composure when I saw him lacing up his boots. He tried to comfort me, but it only made things worse. Later when he sat down with the puppy one last time, telling him to “Take care of Mommy,” I lost it again.

Going to the unit was really hard. You know that you are on borrowed time, but it also makes it easier because there are other spouses there to talk to. With some you talk about the deployment, with others everything but. Since this was not my first time, I brought magazines to keep my mind off of it. There are some things they do, like signing for weapons, where the families cannot go, so you wait for them, usually in their office or common area. I shared my Southern Lady and Tea Time magazines with other spouses, which many were grateful for. I didn’t get some back and my collection will have holes, so I’ll have to look for back issues, but it’s a small price to pay for helping another spouse.

I spend most of my time with my husband or joking with his Soldiers. We ordered pizza and the guys joked around for a while. When they started loading bags and gathering their things, I knew the time had come. I bundled up to protect myself again the uncommon 40 degree weather as my husband gathered his bag. We headed to the formation area for a final head count and I grew more anxious. After checking in, we had an hour to say our final goodbyes … I hate that they call it that, “final goodbyes.” It’s so ominous.

We stood there, braving the cold, clinging to each other as I cried and he tried to be strong. It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t stop crying, yet I was tired of the tears. Then, the call came for them to load the buses. I wish I could describe the feeling of watching them walk away. As the Soldiers gathered in formation for a final role call, the families raced to the buses in hopes of catching one more glimpse of their Soldier. I watched anxiously for him to arrive, my heart sinking with the thought that I had missed as I counted one, two, three, four, of his Soldiers climb onto the first bus. Just as I started to panic, I heard two spouses call my name and turned in time to see George get out of line of the second bus for one final kiss. “Be strong … I love you” he said as he held me one last time before boarding the bus and the tears started again.

We stood there for nearly 45 minutes staring at the Soldiers sitting on the bus, unable to go near them. It was the longest 45 minutes that I can remember. Then slowly, one by one, they started to pull away. We watched as they drove out of sight, then began the slow trek back to our vehicles. The tears continued to fall as I drove home, greeted the puppy and wrote sent off a quick email to KG, my battle buddie whos husband left a little over a month ago.

"He's gone. The buses left about 30 minutes ago and I can't stop crying. I now that it gets better, it just seems so far away at this point. It's so hard. I don't want to do this again. I'm tired of always saying goodbye. I don't want to be strong, I just want my husband home. I don't want to go to bed because I will be all alone. I will wake up and be alone, go to work, come home and be alone. Why does it have to be so hard to love someone sometimes. His stuff is everywhere, shoes on the floor, clothes on the bed. He even left stuff on the kitchen counter. I don't want to see it, but I can't put it away. The puppy in in my lap, I don;t want to do anything for now, maybe I'll sit here and watch TV until we both fall asleep. I'm sure I'll be better, more in control by the time you read this in the morning, but it seems so far away. I'm just going to get up when I get up and head into work. I'll call you then."

Then I crawled into bed and cried myself to sleep.

Until our next cup of tea …

16 Tea Party Guest:

Sue said...

Promising you that you are not alone at the foot of the cross. We military loved ones are many...another army if you will, not as brave, but we are there together praying for those soldiers we love...and we love them all.

see you there! said...

Oh sweetie, how I wish there were an answer for your distress. I know you ARE strong tho and I'm sure your husband knows that too. I'll just keep thinking of you and checking in.. that's all I know how to do to try to help.


lime said...

dabbing my own eyes after reading this and sending you many many hungs and prayers.

Alice said...

I'm so sorry you and your husband have to go through this and not even for the first time. I have no idea what could possibly make it easier for you while he's gone but I hope there are some little things that allow your mind and heart to relax even for a few minutes at a time. You and your brave husband will be in my prayers.

Cheryl said...

Oh michelle, im thinking of you especially at the moment {{hugs}}

smilnsigh said...

My heart goes out to you, Dear.


Sheila said...

I am here via Mari-Nanci, my first visit. I became emotional reading this, so I cannot begin to imagine how you feel. Be strong ..easy to say, but do try.
I am so thankful for heroes like your husband, and those who wait at home for them..xx

ancient one said...

Just know that you have a bunch of blogland friends praying for you and your husband.

My first visit also by way of Mari-Nanci... but I will check back often!!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Here via Mari-Nanci's blog as well. My heart goes out to you and your family. May you find that still center right in the middle of this storm. Praying for your beloved's safety and for you as you endure another separation.

stitcherw said...

I'm so sorry, I can't imagine what it must be like to go through that. My thoughts and prayers are with you both. {{hugs}}

Mary Isabella said...

My first visit to your blog. Please know that my heart and prayers go out to you. I will light a candle at my Christmas table this year in honor of you and your family. Blessings Mary

. said...

I wish I could take from you a bit of your sadness. It's hard to read this and to know I can't do anything.

PEA said...

I am here via Mari Nanci's blog and I must say reading this post had me in tears...I can't even imagine how hard it must be having to say goodbye like that every time he gets deployed. Know that I am thinking of you! Big hugs!! xox

ABW said...

Way to make me cry!

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and George and the rest of the Soldiers and families affected.

Sandra said...

From one military wife to another, you ARE strong. Let me tell you, I read your post and I cried, cried for you having to go through this right now and cried for me having gone through it so many times before.

It never gets easier and you're never prepared for it, watching them leave is the hardest thing you ever have to endure.....but know that you're not alone, there's so many of us out here who applaud you and support you through this. It takes a very special woman to be a military wife :)

Just hang in there ok??? I'm only a blog away if you need to vent.


Meari said...

Awww.. I know I'm a bit late on responding, but I just wanted to let you know I could feel your pain and emotion of your DH leaving. :( Belated ((hugs)) to you.