Friday, December 7, 2007

Our Turn (6 Month Milestone)






A few days ago we reached an important milestone in this 15 month deployment- 6 months. A 50% of a year has gone by since I drove away from him on that warm, summer evening at Ft. Bragg. This little curb is the exact place where we spent our last moment together. We'd already said our goodbye privately, but this is the little spot of earth where I last saw my husband running off towards an area where soldiers were gathered.


The sun was setting and I drove away with my heart thumping, hoping that reality would hit only after I left the base. It was a long drive to Raleigh and a longer night alone in a rink-a-dink hotel, wondering if each second was the moment his plane was taking off. Part of me felt I should be running along side the plane as fast as I could until I fell on my face in the dirt with one arm outstretched as his plane lifted into the sky. The other part of me just wanted to sit perfectly still, and never speak again, as if denying a voice to grief would deny its sovereignty.
I haven't cared to share the events of that day with anyone--I think I needed to get more of the behind me. You just really don't want to be on a military installation the day of a deployment if you don't have to be. Just watch the happy homecomings on TV. Trust me.

Everyone has their own way of saying good-bye.
In one instance, a husband was hugging his wife and kids in the front yard of their humble little on post home. All of his stuff was on lawn and I imagined at any moment his ride would come and take him away. Other couples were having their private moment in parking lots---away from the bustle of loading gear and the lines at the weapons draw. I could almost hear the delicate whispers and feel their embrace.

I saw a father walking with his arm around his teenage son, knowing he was probably telling him to do good in school and listen to his mother or that he was the man of the house for now and needed to step up. The son was not crying, but nodding his head as if he understood what his dad has been telling him on a different level today. "Yeah, dad. I understand. I will take care of the lawn and make sure we lock the doors at night. I will take care of Mom, little Joe, and the baby."

Small children played near the busses. Although initially I wanted to be with my husband until the very last moment possible, when I saw them running around, oblivious to the seperation they were about to experience, I suddenly was glad I wouldn't be there. I'm not sure I could bear to see their tears, their mom's trying to soothe their cries through her own tears as the busses drove away. Sigh. My heart still aches when I think of what I saw that day.

The beginning of our good-bye didn't involve any words. It was just us, alone in bed a day or so before he left. I was in his arms and quietly weeping while he held me close. Nothing was said. We knew.

It seemed only seconds passed before we were sitting on a picnic bench adjacent to a little pond at Ft. Bragg. I felt the almost ghostly echos of many goodbyes that had taken place there in all the years before we stood there. There we were, standing in the shadows of 82nd Airborne paratroopers from times long gone, whispering prayers and words of love and encouragement that belong only to us. It saddened me to know they also stood here with a wife or sweetheart saying they'd be back and either did not or else came back a different man. At the same time, I felt a quiet strength wash over me with the gentle peace of knowing that it was simply our turn.
As the circumstances of the world's troubles pulled us apart, I felt at the same time we were being warmly received by the others in the ancient tribes who do not fall to pieces when the drum of war begins to beat. Oh, how I miss him.... and yet I know that we can't be broken by such a minor thing as 15 months of time - not with the examples that we have had from those who've gone before us.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Worst Kind of Good Dream...

...is when you dream that you are together and wake up and remember that you aren't. Although the story line was not very exciting, the dream I had during my nap was vivid. There was dialogue, eye contact, and laughter. It was as if my skin could feel the closeness of his presence.

I awoke from the sound of the television, hearing the exaggerated dialogue of Sylvester Stallone buying a watch for his wife in Rocky while she wrung her hands about the cost. Half asleep, half awake, I remembered the time at the PX when K. tried to buy me a "too expensive" watch saying that my wrist didn't deserve a mere watch, but rather, a "time piece." My heart smiled.

A moment after that, I became cognizant that I was really just laying on my couch alone, listening to the sound of the TV. The family gone from a Thanksgiving visit and knowing the man in my dreams was half a day ahead of me in Iraq, I felt starkly alone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So Far Away from Me

A little video I made recently after catching this tune on the radio.
video

Monday, November 12, 2007

Arms Gone Astray

You know what kinds of things make it hard to write in this "positive" blog? These kinds.

Sunday, November 11, 2007



SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune
Veterans for Peace set up 2,400 crosses on the beach in Oceanside.
Each marker has the name of a service member who died in Iraq.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Flat Daddies


If you have little ones at home, you might find having a "Flat Daddy" around is a nice thing for your kids. Flat Daddies are life-sized portraits of your loved one and are free to children of deployed parents although the wait time is long. Really now, with 15 month deployments, what else are people with young children doing to keep Daddy (& Mommy) alive around the home? There are also life- sized cutouts available.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Night

It is 2:24 am and as long as my day was, I am unable to sleep. I guess there are a lot of people who can't sleep tonight and are thinking of someone over there too, but sometimes it feels like you're the only one.When I see him again, I hope we can sleep for 3 days straight just so I can savor what deep sleep next to someone you love is like.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Happy Anniversary

It's not really our anniversary, but we are 4 months down (yay!) with "just"11 to go. So far, we're doing pretty good. We're not the couple that spends time fighting on the phone ( it is not uncommon to overhear soldiers having long distance phone squabbles or email fights with their wife). I think one of the reasons that K. and I do not struggle with this is because we communicate well with one another and we take the time to edify, encourage, and re-assure one another. One way he does this is by sending cards to me. The only "problem" is that there is such a limited selection of cards he has access to that I tend to get birthday and anniversary cards all the time, even when it isn't my birthday and we haven't even reached our first anniversary yet. I'm saving the cards. I'm sure I'll look back fondly at all of the "birthdays" and "anniversaries" that we spent apart this deployment.
Happy Anniversary to you too, honey.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Juxtaposition

This is the same woman on two very different days of her life.


"Terri Gurrola clings to her daughter Gabrielle, 3, at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, having just returned from a seven-month tour in Iraq. The news this week was dominated by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus' report on the state of the war in Iraq and his recommendation of a gradual drawdown of troops." (Louie Favorite / The Journal & Constitution)





"1st Lt. Terri Gurrola, medic in Company C, 203rd Forward Support Battalion, casts the leg of Hussein, a 15-year-old Iraqi boy, April 9, at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq. Hussein lost his leg in an improvised explosive device incident four years ago. Photo by 203rd Brigade Support Battalion." Medics Bring Hope to Iraqi Boy, MNF-I Official Website

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's Nothing Personal

I think one of the hardest things I am working through right now is the change in communication pattern. It's quite unexpectedly something I have found myself fighting not to take so personally. I'm embarrased to even admit it as something about it seems so selfish and immature.

I think people tend to underestimate the what limited communication would feel like if they were in a similar situation. I mean you figure when a man deploys to a combat zone, that something inside of you clicks on and you stop needing to talk to him so much. You figure that you will just rationally understand that he's busy and you won't notice if he emails or not. That you'll be so consumed with worry that you won't stop to even expect a call. For cripes sake woman, the man is in a combat zone! There's a war going on!

I want to be positive in this blog, but I also want to be honest. And the truth is that some days, I'm actually human. Some days, I'm but a woman who misses being able to confide everything, even the mundane. Some days I want long juicy letters and emails even when I know they are not practically possible most of the time and yes, I feel this sometimes even when I know he's busy or tired! What a brat!

I'm mature enough to recognize that these are moments I'm just going to have to grow through. And I also realize that it works both ways--he misses this too except he has to do it while he's stuck over there! The truth is, I am not curling up into a little ball about this, in the end, it is just one of the inconveniences of war that some people are some how able to handle. There are much greater, more serious prices to pay pay in war (billions of dollars, thousands of lives...).

So why do I write? I guess because I know this is not the kind of thing military wives will complain about except to eachother. It's important enough for me to tell you that that when you're listening to the news and hear about the stress the repeated deployments have on families, I feel like I want people to think about these kind of moments--and multiply at least 1 instance a day x 180,000 soldiers x 90,000 estimated wives x kids x immediate family x 15 months. A brigade isn't a news blip or a dot on a map--it represents a lot of people and a lot of little moments.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Notebook

I received a little green notebook a month ago with great welcome. Inside this little treasure, my husband wrote a special dedication, indicating that we'd be exchanging this journal between us over the course of the deployment. There's something so intriguing and mysterious about the possibility of blank pages.

With pen to paper, our life-together-but-apart, will be etched into history. I'm never one at a loss for words and yet I've mostly just carried this little book inside my purse, reading and re-reading what he wrote and wondering what I can say that's interesting or important enough to be inked into history. The blank pages in this notebook represent the most important of all things right now- hope.

Inside this little book are our hopes and dreams and the kind of deep thoughts that are shared only between a man and his wife. Inside is a story of waiting, a long love letter, secrets, a chapter to a life story. What words will life will bring us in the next year to fill the pages?

An Open Love Letter

Sweet dear husband, can you feel my absolute love calling out to you in the universe tonight? Can you feel the pounding ache in my heart for you? Not aching for my own longing, but aching from the thought that you may be aching today and not feel me next to you? Can you feel my hand wrapped into an unbreakable tangle with yours?

Can you feel this "something's missing" feeling? The one that tells you that life goes on and yet at the same time it does not because there is an extra place setting at every meal? My heart breaks in the ironic agony that you eat alone at the same time I wish I was bringing you a plate and something to drink.

Don't you ever for one minute think that anyone or anything can ever replace what you are and bring to me. I love being with you, laughing with you, playing with you. I don't forget that feeling and I don't forget you. The longing does not cease. The practicality of my mind and the faith in my heart and the strength in my spine together cannot supplant a single smile from your lips.

The taste of your kisses is burned into my tongue and your touches etched in stone on to my skin. Your welcome love exploded my heart and bathes my world, making it far more lovely than before. Your words, your sounds, your heartbeats, your deepest gaze, your highest passions, I hold so carefully in my trembling, excited hands as I pray that you will know how much I love you tonight.

I miss you and love you, husband.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Love Under Ground

I'm having a tough day today. My night is his day and his day is my night. We live in two seperate worlds and his life, quite literally, happens a day ahead of mine. Owing to the 7, 738 miles between us, life doesn't even occur on the same day for us.

I think one of the hardest evolutions taking place in my heart is the acceptance that life goes on. It's tempting to wait by the phone or computer for a spark of a connection. Somehow, life goes on - bills get paid, trips get taken, you miss his call, you say the wrong thing, you miss days of writing letters, work has to be done, wars have to get fought.

It's so difficult not to worry about the cumulative, long-term effect of the gaps in connection but somewhere inside I guess I know that my understanding of what defines "connection" between a man and his wife is going to be stretched. What I'm really trying to absorb right now is the knowledge that love and life always make a way even when you can't see or feel it.

There are flower bulbs that lie dormant in the dark, sunless ground for seasons at a time. From the outside, it would appear that nothing is growing there at all. Yet when the right time comes, out of that dark, wet soil emerges life. In the secret and hidden world not seen by man, something beautiful was being forged all along, just the way that God designed it. Unseen to our eyes, He sustains and grows, He fortifies those fragile things until they are in season. I take faith in this today and hope that I will remember it.

Perhaps this is what he does with military marriages during wars. He puts a special love under ground so that while there are limited flowers, their roots will course deeply into the earth. Roots entwine in place of hands that can't, anchored there by something nobody sees. They will be sheltered as they grow into their next season, where what beauty they behold will once again be apparent to the rest of the world.

Root with me underground, my Love and entwine your roots with mine. Let's grow another year deeper where nobody can see us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Radio Silence

It's probably not the best time to blog after reading the news, but I can't help it today - something is bothering me. A group of Army wives I know from an online discussion board recently discussed communication frequency with their deployed spouses. I can't help but wonder if when the average person expresses appreciation for the troops, if they stop to think about some of the small details like this.

Obviously, a war doesn't bode well for courtship and romancing your wife and I don't complain about this or expect it-it's just the way it is. I don't get to talk to my husband everyday and I don't get super long emails and love letters everyday to sustain me. However, there are women I think of today who hear from their husbands once a month. Their husbands are living in conditions and places that do not permit regular phone calls/email.

Can you take a second and imagine hearing the deafening sound of that empty crackle on the other side of a radio, moment after moment for 30 days? Writing letter after letter with infrequent response, sending packages, waiting by the edge of your seat in trepidation only for this to crecendo in that grand moment when the phone rings and you talk, and the process begins anew and the worry starts all over?

Think about it. What would you talk about after 30 days of silence between you and your spouse? How do you cram in all the updates, needs, and chit chat that would have occurred? How do you affirm your love for one another and encourage?

Does anybody out there besides me feel grieved by the repeated stretching this does to both parties in a marriage? I think today of an Army wife who responded to the survey. She's in Alaska entertaining herself for 30 days in a row, gets a call, and then repeats the cycle for one more of the 15 times in a row she will do that and not say anything about it ever. I've never heard her complain about her world of one-sided seeming love. Another is pregnant with her first child. I hurt inside today for her as I imagine the unspoken moments of her lonely experience. She never says anything about it to the rest of us, but I have a son and I can only imagine the weight of her heart inside her chest.

The silver lining I find today is not so much in the realization that I am extremely lucky to have more frequent communication with my spouse. My message today is that I feel grateful a grateful witness to a secret sisterhood so strong - women who are a living examples to me of how selfless love, devotion, and faith are present in a marriage's most precarious time.

I really can't know if all the people who have a "support the troops" car magnet ever consider the communication patterns of military families during wartime deployments, but what I do know is that as much as we are being tested, we are made of a special kind of steel, formulated to quietly bear the weight that less than 1% of the population in this country will ever have to bear on their shoulders.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman


When you're 13.75 months and 7,738 miles away from the one you love, life's small tasks can assume a much larger importance, like getting to the post office on time.

When I first met my mother-in-law, she recounted the time she spent waiting on the father of my beloved while he complete his 3rd tour in Vietnam. It was a different time then, so over the course of his tour, she was able to talk to him on the phone but one or two times to update him on wedding plans and that was it for the entire year (what a cruel deployment world it must have been with no email!). But every single day, she wrote him a letter and he wrote one to her.

Those letters are long lost, but their story left an impression on me. I knew when I was told this story that the legacy of those love letters would carry on in my letters to my husband when he deployed. Would I find something interesting enough to write about every day for 15 months? So far, yes.

Writing the tiny number in the corner of each letter or card I have sent has become a matter of great importance. Now, I just got an address from him, so I'm only on Letter #13 and Package #5, but each time the number goes up, I visualize the moment I'll be writing a number like "Letter #259." At that point, so much more of this deployment will be behind us, though it's somewhat sobering to realize I will get up to like, Letter #455. Who knows where he will store these letters in his tiny living space!

Today was a long, busy day at work. To my dismay, I realized that in the hustle, I'd forgotten to put his daily letter in the mail. I drove up to a post office I know that has a late last pick up, and tossed the letter in, feeling a great sense of relief. No sooner did I toss it in than I realized that I'd forgotten to put a stamp on it. I drove off in a self-created panic, thinking, "What now? I can't get the mail out of the box. Now I have to wait for it to come back to me. Will the mail sorter give me a break when they see where it's going and slip it through or will they roughly apply a rubber stamp to it that says: RETURN TO SENDER FOR POSTAGE"

I simply couldn't bear the thought of this being The Letter That Might Have Gotten on to the Airplane and In His Hands if Only His Wife Remembered to Use a Stamp! What if waiting would have meant getting into the next batch of mail? I felt a little girl's dismay wash over my heart and I almost began to cry until I pulled it together, flipped a U-turn, and decided I would drive back and stalk the mailboxes until they got emptied. I went back, fearing the postman would say that it was a federal crime for me to try and intercept this peice of mail and thinking of what I would say.

I waited there, pacing as I watched the last folks scrambling to get their bills off from the post office with the latest pickup time in San Diego County (8 pm).


And finally, there he was, bathed in heavenly light- the man who held the precarious symbolic treasure of my marriage and my husband's morale in his very hands! I bet if I explain where the letter is going, what color it is, and what perfume is on it, he will let me put a stamp on it!

There's a happy ending, of course. He listened to my panicked story and asked me which box it was in and we found it right away. He let me stamp it so it will be properly postmarked 7/10/07 (and we all know how men at war have nothing else to do besides notice the time between postmarks). When my husband gets it, he won't really have a way of knowing how much love went into this one particular letter, but I guess it really doesn't matter. I will know and it matters to me.

Thank you, Mr. Postman.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Flicker of Hope is Sometimes Enough

The media doesn't always report all the other things our troops are doing in Iraq. Just the other day, 24 severely malnourished and mistreated boys were rescued from an Iraqi orphanage. I can't completely explain the burden I feel for the men who are seeing these things and somehow having to mentally reconcile with it, nor describe the depth of wondering I do about how these little kids will manage to escape this experience.

Since I was a child, I have had an affliction to over-expose myself to the war-time grief of humanity. I stopped questioning why I felt I needed to force this witness upon others when I realized that the ache inside was really a gentle voice purposed to help others understand.

If I really allowed myself to do it, I could weep for 24 hours extrapolating the rest of the story from these pictures and perhaps even question the existence of God. But do you know what I see? Love, compassion, and strength where it is not supposed to exist, and somehow I feel a flicker of hope. In perhaps the most evil, brutally violent place in the world to be right now, 24 seeds of the next generation who were supposed to die got another chance.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) "U.S. soldiers helped rescue 24 abused and severely malnourished boys this month from a Baghdad orphanage, where they were found in conditions of appalling squalor. The 24 boys, aged 3 to 15 years old, were found naked in a darkened room without any windows. Many of the children were tied to their beds and were too weak to stand once released," In one, a U.S. soldier attended a boy whose body was covered in sores. Another child was tied to a cot and a third picture showed a group of boys lying face down on the floor, in pools of what appeared to be their own excrement. "In a nearby locked room, the soldiers discovered a room full of food and clothing that could have been used to aid the children."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day for a Soldier

Major Ray Kimball, a founding member of the IAVA, shares his poignant thoughts on what Father's Day means to soldiers with children. Ray is just one father of some 700,000 children with a parent deployed today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sorry I Missed Your Call....

"Sorry I missed your call" How many millions of voicemail greetings use that line? I'm not sure anyone means those words more than a wife when she miss a phone call from her deployed loved one. This is the burden on me today. I missed not one, but three of his attempts to reach me today. I can even tell you the times- 1:50 am, 1:51 am, and 7:12 am.

I swear that I slept with the phone in my ear, but as I fumbled in the dark, the cell phone got tangled in the sheets and so I missed call #2 by one second. Oh, the torture! I don't know when he can call again. There is of course, no way for me to call back, so I settled writing a couple of long emails at 2 am. I think that I will have to sleep on the couch with the lights on and my computer volume all the way up from now on.

Do you know what the hard part is? Not that I didn't talk to him, but that he didn't get to talk to me. What did he go through to get to a phone? Wait in line? Walk across the base? Have to stop what he was doing? What if he needed me or just wanted to hear my voice or ask me something important or if it were even more serious than that?

Sorry I missed your call, honey. I really am.

Monday, June 11, 2007

DHS Offers Sci-Fi Writers $10 Million to Combat Terrorism

The US Department of Homeland Security is offering 1/10th of it's research budget to to science fiction writers to dream up futuristic ideas that might help combat terrorism. Think along the lines of cell phones that detect anthrax spores and encephalography technology being used to "read the minds" of airport security sniffer dogs to understand what type of explosive they smell.

Apparently a select group of these writers, including Jerry Pournelle who advised Reagan on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), have already met with security chiefs in Washington, DC to discuss their ideas. A group of these sci-fi writers have formed Sigma, a group whose aim is to pursue science fiction "in the national interest."

Friday, June 8, 2007

Iraqi Graffiti Wars

Quite strange to me to think of tagging as an insurgency effort destabilization tactic, but I came across this interesting story in the Middle East Times about the military usefulness of graffiti in Iraq through a similar snippet on graffiti at Passport, a blog by the editors of Foreign Policy.

Deployment Dollars

So there's a little bit of a silver lining to this long 15-month deployment and it has to do with money. My husband has been quite excited about it and I've been reluctant (okay, stubborn) to actually admit it, but a wartime deployment offers several extra pay entitlements and legislation that military families can use to advance their financial standing significantly over the duration of the deployment. The caveat to this succeeding of course, is that the military family must already be making it by for the benefits to be realized.

First, deployed service members are eligible for Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE)which exempts them from paying income tax earned during deployments. They also receive a little extra in the way of Hostile Fire Pay (HFP)/Imminent Danger Pay (IDP)at $225/mo, Family Separation Allowance (FSA) at $250/mo, and the ability to make voluntary contributions to the Savings Deposit Program (SDP), a guaranteed 10% return savings program.

The fact that the wages for a soldier are not particularly lucrative means that nobody is really profiting much. If there are two household incomes, as in my case, then these measures can make a more noticeable difference. However, these in no way compare to sales commissions and corporate bonuses. I mean, if you work out the math, you get $8.33 a day more with FSA for being involuntarily seperated from your family. What is the price of one day to the average person for a missed birthday, anniversary, school program, or birth? Add to this, a whopping $7.25/day in HFP/IDP to work in a war zone and perhaps lose a limb and well, the sense of financial returns diminishes in size. Thankfully for the 99% of us who never put on a uniform, people who serve in the military, clearly, serve for other reasons (and I have a lot to say about this...).

You know, there is also a peice of legislation signed in 2003 that offers military families the chance to significantly reduce debts. Yet, if explained the “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act” (SCRA) to you right now, you might forget to come back! My fifteen month deployment ticker has barely started to tick and I've got many more silver linings to discover with you.

As with all other things in life, this deployment, this war, is a matter of perspective. I can allow myself to be depressed by the relativity of mathematical military pay calculations and all the depressing news reports or I can look through them (not blindly past them - this is impossible and there is a difference) and try to enjoy the bigger and smaller pictures.

For my family, this extra money will help us reach longer term goals because we are not planning on spending it on consumer goods, a new truck, or our cost of living- we're putting it towards the future and we will be together again. We will.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Deployment time...




So my husband has now deployed and the 15 month Army clock has begun to tick. I am not ready to write about it but I think that I do want (and need) to say something. I tend to become emotionally mute about big things, needing to marinate and process the experience in my brain a little before I can talk. So I'll write but I'll just have to do it when the words can come out.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How Would CNN Report the D-Day Landings?

Today is the anniversary of the epic Normandy invasion. If the D-Day landings at Normandy happened today, how would today's media portray it? The Combat Report's "PNN" news reports:

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As a person with a longstanding interest in all things military history, my trip to the Normandy Beaches was a haunting, emotional, absolutely unforgettable experience. As I began my D-Day explorations, I was compelled to drive my tiny little car out into the lush Normandy countryside. Here's is the very first photo I snapped of a monument to the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division in that field. Little did I know that this little photo would be one of those little coincidences that brought me and my husband together (both he and his father are paratroopers with 82nd Airborne ties).

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Still in My Arms





The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of ‘Cat,’ and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. “I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,” she said. “I think that’s what he would have wanted.” - Todd Heisler- The Rocky Mountain News

This is such a sad photo. The caption doesn't say it, but she's pregnant in this photo too. The article accompanying it is equally as riveting a read. It appeared in my hometown newspaper as few months ago and seemed fitting to share on Memorial Day.

I know, I know. I said I would be positive in this blog but I think it is important to acknowledge the very real, very sad realities of wars. After saying my prayer for this woman and her baby, I felt so lucky that everyone I love, including my husband, are still in my arms.

What these precious pre-deployment months have really triple reinforced in me is that time is too precious to waste waiting for "the right time" to say something or to be prideful about showing someone how you feel. It's too short to hestitate until it feels like "the perfect time" to do something (have a baby, get married,etc.). We just aren't given enough breath to stay angry, be crabby, or sullen or get mad over inconsequential things. Even if we are not a soldier, we can all disappear from the earth in an unexpected flash of time. We don't have enough opportunity to show people how much we love them or to tell them how nice it is to do such a simple thing as to sleep next to them at night.

What am I learning from this?

That life is still in my arms. Life on this earth is to be embraced with BOTH arms for every precious, tender moment that it offers us back. Every breathe of life and every moment we have to breathe it, is worth diamonds.

Friday, May 18, 2007

What I'm Learning from This......



As deployment day (D-Day) draws neigh on the horizon of my first year of marriage, I find that I am bracing myself and mentally creating a survival strategy without knowing what to expect. I'm one to anticipate needs before they arise, knowing that when trouble comes, I will already have plan A, B, & C in my back pocket. This is difficult when you don't know what to expect.

So the man it took 32 years to find is leaving for the same fifteen months of time that everyone else in the Army has to do. It is his second deployment to the sandbox, but his first as a married man. As a student of history, I have studied war my entire life, but I have never lived through it in this way. I want to do a good job. I want my new marriage to continue growing. I want....
Does it matter what I want?

As impossible as it may seem to accomplish, I have (perhaps foolishly) already determined that I will turn this next 15 months into a challenging experience of finding something positive in every single day. Now, I have always billed myself as an "optimistic realist, " so don't get me wrong. I believe this is will be difficult. I may fall on my face before you in this very blog....

...but I have theme for the next fifteen months of my life and marriage. When you have a theme, a cause, a mind-set, a prayer, a mantra - you can make it.

My mantra is this: What am I learning from this?

When I feel anything negative, I am going to ask myself this single question, over and over again. Life has a way of having to teach us the same lessons, and I suspect I will emerge having re-learned that which I already know. It may be that I simply have that knowledge tested at a deeper level and then re-emerge with an even greater understanding of the simple truths I already know....

That faith exercised in darkness is the only thing strong enought to trump fear of any kind, that an upward release of what you cannot control tempers the internal sense of loss, that God has our back, that life is bittersweet but is always leans towards the sweet side. And that ultimately, you become a stronger and more lovely woman when you accept and overcome life's hardness with a spirit of gentleness and abiding grace.

The interesting, gorgeous, wonderful friend I waited on for over 30 years is leaving to a dusty combat zone for 15 months right when I want to be with him, want him to be safe, want to laugh with him, want look into his eyes, want be a good wife to him, want to make a baby with him..... want (there's that word again)

What am I learning from this?

Loving someone is a stronger feeling than missing someone. I will miss him, but I will always love him more.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Getting Ready to Walk the Longest Road

Pre-deployment leave starts soon. I am so happy that I will get to see K for a couple of weeks and yet I dread the passage of time of the next few days. I strangely want to fast forward time and get him off to "The Suck" so that the clock can start ticking and he can come back...and yet I know once he leaves, time will drip slowly.....like the way wax would melt to the dull heat of a small lightbulb and so I want to stop time.

I am a newlywed. So in love. So knowing that I married the exactly right person. I am mature, self-sustaining, have already been a single mom 11 years and yet I feel like a small child when I think of all the things that can happen in 18 months.

I do not want to lose momentum in our relationship. I crave our growth and discovery. I crave his love, his attention, his touch, his kiss, his friendship, his voice, the comfortable tangled up embrace we sleep in. I hunger to massage and caress him and scratch his back lightly as he falls to sleep enveloped in kisses and deep love.

And yet soon I will have to open up my arms to release him from that last hug. I will have to unclentch my hand from his...release every single finger. I will have to stand up straight when I want to curl into a ball. I will have to trust God when my mind wants to fear. I know wherever my hands cannot touch him, God's love will caress him. Where my voice cannot carry, God's ways will be able remind him that he is loved. I know what's down the path and that we will walk down the longest road together, one day and one step at a time.