The Deployment Diary

Friday, May 21, 2004

Day 255 - One More Season

I remember when I went to register our daughter at school this past year. Much like the tables in my dream (odd now that I think about - maybe that's where the tables came from), they had long tables set up in front of the stage. Their lunchroom is also used as the school's auditorium. You started on the right end and worked your way left. Each "station" had paperwork to pick up and to sign - and chairs to sit in as the people at each station gave and received information they needed about your child.

At the last station was the school secretary. An extremely nice woman and all the children adore her. This last sitting place was also where the new principal was located. The previous principal retired after the last school year. They had a paper to fill out about any special needs your child has such as allergies, medications, emergency contacts and so on.

Mrs. E introduced herself as the incoming principal. She asked if there was anything going on at home that I felt the school should be aware of. She gave examples of a family member with an illness, recent divorce or death.

I remember very vividly that I looked at Mrs. S (the secretary), my eyes filled with tears and I said yes, we did have something going on at home that I had planned to speak with her teacher about before the year started. Her father was deploying to Iraq for a year a few weeks after school started. I wanted to make sure the school was aware so if they noticed any behavioral changes, they would contact me. Also, if she was sad and asked to call or go home any day, that they call me immediately whether they felt the situation was under control or not. If they had it under control, I still wanted to be aware so as a family, we could work through any feelings that may arise.

After my parents divorced when I was eight and we moved into a new house a year or so later (in another state), going to school some days was hard. Two years later, there would still be those days where I'd get to the bottom of our driveway and have this huge uncontrollable fear come over me. I'd have to turn around, go back in the house and tell Mother I felt bad and wanted to stay home. Thankfully, I rarely ran a fever when sick unless I had strep throat so she never insisted on a fever to allow me to stay home, and I didn't like missing school often, so Mother would let me stay home. She'd go on to work, but I still felt so secure at our house. Those days the fear hit, I'd be afraid for some reason that I still cannot explain, that she'd not come home either. Daddy was an absentee father for the most part, which he says he will regret to his grave. I just had those days where the thought of leaving the house and not ever seeing Mother again would paralyze me with fear and I would want to stay home.

I worried that after my husband left, our daughter may have days like that. Or, get to school and have these types of feelings and want to come home. I wanted the school to know in no uncertain terms that they were to call me if she was upset for no reason or for any reason. I felt strongly that those first few weeks after he left would in a way, set the tone for the rest of the year. I wanted us to pull through it together and with her gone seven hours of every weekday, I would depend on them to be my eyes and ears.

I remember the morning my husband left. He wanted to drive her to school that day. He wanted those few minutes with her alone, to say good-bye. When he walked back through the door after dropping her off, I don't think I've ever seen so much pain in his eyes. Those two are so close. Like me, she's a Daddy's girl and he's her entire world - as she is his. I think seeing his pain when he came home and when it came time for him to hug our son goodbye who at two, couldn't grasp what all the fuss was about, was more painful to experience than my own goodbye. That night after he left, I hurt so much for me. However, I hurt more for the three of them. The three of them collectively would pay a much higher price than I, sacrifice so much more and it broke my heart in a million pieces - and still does.

Those first few weeks driving her to school after he left and sitting in the parking lot listening to James Taylor's Fire and Rain waiting for the time to go in and meet her after school, were some difficult days. I'd sit in the parking lot and stare out the car's window at this huge tree in a house near the school. The sky behind it would seem so peaceful especially the days where the moon could be seen. With James Taylor's voice singing a song that just seem to bring it all home, tears would stream down my face and I'd occasionally move my sunglasses enough to wipe the tears. I'd wish that this warm day was a spring day instead of one in the fall. We still had an entire year's worth of seasons to make it through and those first weeks I wasn't so sure I would - or could.

I would sit there and try imagine what I'd be feeling that last day of school knowing I only had a few months left until his return, compared to the months we would have behind us. Would I be ok by then? Sitting there staring at a moon I could see during the day and wondering if he could see it where he was - and trying to sob without people walking by noticing or my son in the backseat hearing me, I knew I was not ok at that moment.

Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day

I truly felt during those weeks I just could not go another minute, another hour, another day.

And here I am. The last day of school. I made it this far, when I was not so very sure I would with a semblance of sanity left.

Our little girl made it with wonderful grades and scored the best in her class for reading and phonics. She did such a great job this year despite what she held on her shoulders and the weight within her heart. I'm so very proud of her.

Our sweet boy. Despite the initial setback when Daddy left regarding potty training, he's now wearing big boy undies - even to bed. He knows his numbers, colors and ABCs. He is a source of great pride also.

One last season to make it through. By the time the heat has lifted, the leaves are changing and the cold wind blows, he will be home with us. Our family back together. All under one roof, all hopefully healthy - all safe.

It is so close, yet I can't help but feel it is still so very far away. We have made it this far though. We have. And only one more season to go...

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