The Deployment Diary

Saturday, March 13, 2004

August and Everything After...

Counting Crows was popular years ago. My husband and I had their tape back in the days before cars had CD players ;). I remember us taking a trip once and listening to "Mr. Jones" and "Round Here" on one particular long trip to the beach.

The first time he deployed after we married, I had been nostalgic for our past times where things were easy and life wasn't scary. I had been listening to the tape in the car a lot while we waited for the day he'd be leaving (we had 48 hours notice on this trip to the desert). The day I met him up at the hanger to say good-bye and watch them shake the hand of the general who stood between them and the bus that would take them to the unknown, the tape was in the car.

We said our good-byes. I was the only wife sobbing. For months after that day I beat myself up for not being "strong" like the other spouses. Years later, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a crier. Hey - maybe some can stand stoned faced and watch their loved one leave. More power to them. I'm not cut from the same cloth. God made me (as my Mother has said for years) as one who wears their heart on their sleeve. I hated that about myself for years, but now I embrace it. I have such empathy for others. I care so deeply for people I've never met who are going through hard times. I keep their troubles on my shoulders as if they were my own and pray for them as if they were family. I'm thankful God gave me a heart big enough to hold it all, and to shed tears when I'm needing to. One of my Aunts has never cried. EVER. She's hard, she's stone - and I admire her and pity her. I'm soft and mushy and there's a place for both types of people and everything in between in this world. It's what makes each of us special.

So, the day I watched him disappear behind the tinted windows on that bus, our seven month old and I headed to the car. Through tears, I strapped her into her car seat, put the stroller in the trunk and headed back to our home to walk through the front door and to learn to live alone again. It had been a few years since I'd lived alone.

I was amazed at how easily I had forgotten how to be independent. I guess a happy marriage will do that to you. I had gotten my own apartment as soon as I turned 18. Mother wouldn't let me "live there" until several months later when I graduated from high school. I was too stupid to take advantage of the Pell Grant I would have easily qualified for. Instead, I worked 50+ hours every week in a dead-end job. Eventually becoming a legal secretary and working the dead-end job at night and on the weekends for extra spending money. I had been independent from a pretty young age. While my friends were still living off Mommy and Daddy drinking their money from part time jobs in-between going to classes, I had my own place, my own bills and my own life.

After meeting my husband - the first day I met him actually, all that changed. I didn't want to be alone anymore. I wanted to be with him. I knew when I first saw him HE was the person I had been searching for all my life. I was 22. I guess it is something that runs in my family. The story as I remember it is this: My cousin had been at a baseball game in Birmingham with some friends. She spotted this guy several rows down. She told her friends, "See that guy? I'm going to marry him." Her friends thought she was crazy. They've been married probably 20 years now. It's just something inside that says "THERE he is!!" I can't explain it, but when it happens, you know.

At any rate, back to the story here. The thought of learning how to be on my own again, with a baby no less - scared me. Not as much as what might happen to my husband where he was going, but it was up there in the scary department.

I got the car started, headed out and for some reason the Counting Crows tape was on a song I'd never bothered to listen to. It said everything I was feeling at that moment. And, some years later, it still says everything I feel during this deployment. After listening to all the songs I'd skipped over through the years - another one fit the bill. We were near Baltimore at the time, we'd just driven through Maryland not long before to visit his family. Two songs on the tape that fit and since then, even when he's home, I can't help but get teary eyed when I hear them.

I tore this house apart several weeks ago looking for that tape. After over an hour of searching, I found the cassette case, but the tape is long gone. I went to Wal-Mart and found the CD. I plan to make my husband a CD with special songs and send it in the care package I'm mailing out on Monday. Some of the songs are special to us, some are special just to me. I also plan to make me a copy of the same CD so while I'm working in the yard in the coming weeks, I can sing along and lose myself in yard work and wonderful memories of us.

Song list and lyrics posted soon....

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