The Deployment Diary

Monday, March 01, 2004

Sunday Night Phone Calls

When my husband first left, they were going to a place that wasn't set up. There wasn't even a place to wash clothes, so I went to an antique/junk store here in town and bought him and his buddy each a washboard that they took with them. No showers. A bombed out building to sleep in (hey - better than sleeping in the sand). Needless to say, phone banks and an internet cafe were not part of the commodities either.

My aunt was an Army wife for 27 years and lived through my uncle being in the Korean War and several other shorter deployments. My father was in Vietnam. They went months and months without talking to the ones they loved while at war. Snail mail being the only communication option available. We are truly fortunate in this day and age. Email is such a blessing for not only the soldiers doing the hard and dangerous job, but also the families left behind!

After a few months, my husband was able to email several times a week. Each night I would email him a long letter. The next time he was able to get time on the computer, he would email me back - but at the least, he had several letters to print out to read. He wasn't waiting weeks and weeks on a letter! He could keep up with what was going on at home almost as it happened.

Now as we close in on the six month mark, he's able to call every week. I live for these phone calls after living four months or so without being able to hear his wonderful voice at all. I think about what a weakling I am. Four months seemed like an eternity to me - and my aunt went through much more during her time as a military spouse. Generations before us, well, when your spouse deployed, you were moved out of housing. Can you imagine the hardship for the spouse - and the children who depended on that housing to make it financially? Not only is Daddy leaving, but you can't even stay where you've called home and must try to move your belongings and find an affordable place to live. Then, visit the prior years pay and see what a soldier made during the 50s. We have it so much better now.

And things are much better now for me being able to actually talk with my husband each week! Combine that with us exchanging emails every few days - there is no better morale booster for me, that is for sure! I love waking up on the mornings he's been able to email while I was sleeping. I open the email and the first line is always "I LOVE YOU BABY!!!!!!" It just makes me so thankful. Here he is in one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq and I don't have to wait to hear how he is for weeks while the mail finds its way here. Instead, just hours before, he had sat down at a computer on the other side of the world to let me know he's fine. I look at the computer screen and the time it came in and know that at least at that moment he was ok. Knowing as long as he is somewhere on this planet - I'll be fine. While six more months on the bad days feel like an eternity, I think about the spouses here at this installation who are no longer counting down and know I'm blessed. At least I can count down. At least he is coming home. I'm not facing uniforms that will never be worn again and a flag that draped a casket. I'm blessed, I'm fortunate and I'm thankful.

He called last night and while the few minutes we have on the phone go by too fast, they mean everything to me. Just to hear his voice makes me breathe easier for a bit and forget how bad things are there. To be able to talk to one another about what all we want to do when he comes home, how much we miss each other and how much we love each other just seems to help me get through the weeks better.

Saying good-bye is always hard. I wait for his end of the line to hang up before I put the phone down. It's like the last few seconds of being "with" him each week and I don't want it to be over until it absolutely has to be. He's been gone so long now, that feeling of him just being here is gone. Those first months I could still imagine what it was like to have him in our home, walking in the front door - sitting on the porch. Now, it's hard to imagine him walking onto the porch or sitting down at the dinner table and eating with us. I can't decide if it's harder this way - or when it felt as if he might walk through the door at any minute. My husband fills a room. He's so larger than life. He's a big guy, but beyond that, he just has a strong personality and presence. Our house never felt that big until he left. All of a sudden it was too much house - too much room. I can't wait until he's back home and our house feels normal again. I can't wait to walk by him on my way to the kitchen and be able to kiss him on the cheek. To tell him to stop snoring so I can hear whatever it is I'm watching on TV lol or get some sleep myself - and a million other small things that would be insignificant to others, but keep me moving forward each week.

Six more months. That's about 26 phone calls from now...

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