When my husband first said he wanted to write a blog with me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As we sat together, writing and talking, our story began to unwind in a mixture of unspoken glances and thoughts often unheard. As we began to type, rewrite, and edit, we realized we had so much to say. So much to share. So, we created a series together. This is the first blog in that series–our inter-tangled thoughts and the pain of impending goodbye.
I got my orders today. In 6 months I leave for some filthy country, and will walk around where people hate me.
How do I tell my wife that I want to go? How do I explain a desire to go to war? Will she ever understand that doesn’t have anything to do with how I feel about her?
He got his orders today. Again, I have to find a way to unwrap my hands from his head. To keep myself from crying in front of him. But that is still six months away. Maybe, somehow it will change?
How do I tell him I can’t stand the thoughts of him going? Again. How do I tell him how overwhelmed I am with pride for all he is called to do? Yet, broken by the thought of losing him?
I need to kiss her more. I need to play with our kids more. I am ready to go, but still feel unwilling to leave them. There are still places to see, things to do. There is no way to see it all with them before I leave. I guess the zoo will have to be a trip that Daddy is not part of.
I want to hold onto him. But there is never enough time. It feels like he is always gone: In the field. Out the door. Looking toward the sand while I will him to stay with us. Just a few moments longer. So we can remember. So we have enough to hold us together. Memories—the glue of deployments. I need to make peace with losing the feel of his hands around my face.
But his hands crave his gun. And even though I understand that, I am angry. Furious. The pain of saying goodbye is tearing at my mind. My flesh.
I don’t want to leave the house. In a few short months, sitting on a carpeted floor will be a long-lost dream. Drinking coffee in my pajamas and watching TV won’t happen for another year. I keep thinking, If I don’t leave the house, time will go by slower and I can hold on to as much of them as possible. I seem to be the only one content with this plan so far. She wants to get out and enjoy each other, and make memories. All I can think of is that leaving the house for a year is going to be enough “getting out” for me.
I want to avoid it all. My heart and my mind tell me, “We only have a few months left with him. Make memories. Cherish every moment. Push yourself to be the happiest you can possibly be.” So, I beg him to go to the zoo. We have date nights. I want to wrap my hands around his body and never let go. I beg him to stay in the moment. But it is there in his eyes—he is already gone.
And I begin to shut down. To think, “I wish he would just go ahead and leave. I can’t stand the pain of waiting for goodbye.” Then—feel guilty that I am not holding tight to what few moments we still have. How could I be so selfish?
4 months left. If I really calculate how much time I have left with them, leaving is right around the corner: 14 hour days at work – 5 days a week; 5 hours of sleep a night – 7 days a week; 2 weeks in the field; 1 month at NTC; 5 nights of staff duty. All in all, I figure that totals about 18 days. Now I’m depressed. I might as well leave tomorrow….
2 months left at home. I have to make sure the house will be taken care of and fix all of the things that I have been putting off. She is already going to be a mother and father for a year; she doesn’t need to fix what I should be here to fix. That is my job.
Why is she randomly angry with me? I have learned to avoid topics that will immediately spark a fire. Last night I was putting the dishes away and we were talking about a TV show. 5 minutes later we’re arguing. It seems like it is easier for her to yell at me than to kiss me.
I need to kiss my wife more. I need to play with the kids more. I owe it to them, this might be the last time we ever see each other….
2 weeks to go. I haven’t fixed everything in the house yet, changed the oil in the truck, or completely packed my bags. I haven’t kissed my wife enough or played with the kids enough. My mind left for this deployment 2 weeks ago. I am a shell of a person just waiting to leave….
As the days slip from my grasp, the night before he leaves holds me captive. And panicked. There is so much to say. Have I said enough? Loved enough? Kissed enough? Does he have any idea how much I will miss him? How proud I am? Will there ever be enough words? Enough time to condense a lifetime into one night?
I leave in the morning. Tonight is pointless. I would rather just leave and get it over with.
Less than 12 hours of hearing him breathe. We lie awake all night. Listening. Unable to talk, but hearing the deep gulps and stunted breaths.
When the morning rolls through our window, bringing the sun and the stabbing pain all-too familiar, I force myself to kiss him goodbye.
Last kiss goodbye. It’s too long and not long enough. Who should stop kissing who first? If I do she will think I don’t want her, if she does I’ll want another kiss. Keep it short, cut it off first. I should have kissed her more when I had the chance.
He pulls those bags onto his shoulder—the ones I have come to hate—and walks away from me. I want to run to him. Beg him. Cling to him. Tell him he is the only person I will ever love. And force him to promise me he will come home.
But I know that promise is one he can never keep. And all I can do is stand. Wave. Force the welling tears back into my chest until I can no longer see his boots on the ground.
Hug the kids. Dammit, I didn’t play with them enough.
And it begins. Waiting. Praying. Hoping. Fearing. Loving.
I should have kissed him more. Better. My heart rips.
About the Author
Each woman has a story, and she has the right to tell it. This is the heart of HWHV, a group of women who choose to support those who love someone in uniform. No matter the branch or affiliation. HWHV believes that a voice can change a moment, but unified voices can change the world.