Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Words with Friends

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, not because I’ve been busy (well I'm always busy), but because I just haven’t felt like writing about our very long deployment. It’s just been better for me to cope in silence rather than spill it all out for the world to read. It’s not that I’m sad or angry or miserable or suffering. But really, it’s more because, like it or not, people ask me about it all the time so I’m forced to think about it and talk about it more than I want to anyway.

I’ve recently been playing a virtual board game with my sister and my brother’s wife Gloria, through iphone/iPad apps. Word’s with Friends is a Scrabble game app. Gloria and I have had some really close games and trade win’s back and forth frequently. She is a formidable opponent although truth be known, she is better at it than me. So when I win, it’s likely because she got crappy letters that round rather than me excelling at forming high scoring words. But it’s been fun and a nice distraction for me while I wait. The one thing Gloria and I don’t do very much in our games is talk about our personal struggles. We both are dealing with difficult situations in our immediate families. It would be natural to constantly ask about it, be supportive or express compassion. But we don’t. We just play scrabble. I won’t pretend that my situation is in any way as heartbreaking as what she is dealing with. My husband is in a combat zone and we haven’t been together as a family for a year and a half. It’s hard, but I’m not watching one of my children fight for their life. That to me is an unthinkable pain to bear. Gloria never asks me when Mike is coming home, how I’m doing, if he’s done after this, etc. Those are the questions I get almost daily from others. So while I still have to hear them all the time, it’s nice to have one person who doesn’t ask. It’s nice to not have to repeat the answers one more time. We just play Scrabble. And I don't ask too often about Kelly. She knows I care and I know she will send an email out if there is important information to share. We live in different states far from each other and we are enjoying a common love for word games. It’s about as normal as life can get and one way that I get through the longest days yet in this journey we’ve been on. I do understand when people ask me about it, so I answer and it doesn’t upset me. They have no way of knowing that they are the 4th or 5th person to ask me the same thing that week, sometimes that day. I'm sure Gloria gets many questions also and her days of waiting and watching helplessly are also very long. So we'll continue to play a simple board game, something normal in our world that has been anything but normal lately.

So to answer the open questions I mentioned above, Mike will be leaving overseas by the end of the week if all goes as planned. He will make a couple stopovers of unknown length. He could be back in the states within a day after leaving or as many as 4-5 days. He won’t be coming right home but will be heading back to his unit’s mobilization base to unpack, inventory, do paperwork, debrief, and convince the army that he’s not going to come home and go PTSD on us. He should be back in Indiana by mid-April. Yes he’s done for this deployment and will return to his civilian job, but he will continue to be in the Army for a few more years. So yes there is always a possibility of another deployment. Things change in the world every day and we can never be sure of anything. It’s part of the job and we are always prepared for that. It’s unlikely that I will be going to meet him when he returns. Truthfully I’ve been doing everything alone for so long now the thought of driving in a car for 12 hours and then having to leave him behind and drive 12 hours back home is not something I can take on at this point. The logistics of getting three kids back and forth to school, art club, band lessons, religious ed., Girl Scouts, etc. plus making sure homework gets done is not exactly an easy thing to pass off to other people. They need me to be here keeping their lives as normal as possible.

As for me, I am doing fine really. These past few weeks, the closer the end gets have really been the hardest probably for both of us. It’s been a really long journey and every day now drags on. Mike’s work days have basically come to an end there and now he just waits for his return flight. He sometimes goes in to work to help out or give support but he’s handed over the reins to the replacement team. We spend more time now chatting on Skype and he’s been trying to acclimate himself to our time zone here to make the transition easier. The best news of all is that all of his guys are safe and the last of them are also waiting to return home this week. Families will reunite and life will get back to normal. And I will breathe a sigh of relief finally when I see his face and we can pick up where we left off.

I found this poem below and altered it just a bit to fit my circumstances. This is in honor of all military wives


I never wore the uniform,
no medals on my chest.
The band it doesn’t play for me,
I am not among “the Best.”
I do not march in cadence,
I do not rate salute,
I stand among the silent ranks,
our devotion absolute.

If you’ve not worn my shoes,
you do not know my story.
I live a life of sacrifice,
my reward a private glory.
I’ve wept many silent nights away,
and I’ve kept the home fires burning.
I’ve worried and I’ve waited,
as world events were churning.

I’m not asking for your sympathy,
(although appreciation can be nice)
I did it quite on purpose though --
I chose to sacrifice.
I’ll tell you a secret now,
one you’d never guess.
About the one glory that is mine,
it’s enough; no more, no less.

When you and I stand together
as our national anthem plays,
I’ll fill with reminiscences
of how I spent those days.
I’ll know the pain and joys again,
that freedom isn’t free,
I’ll know I’ve helped to pay the price
and the anthem plays for me.