The Deployment Diary

Friday, May 07, 2004

It Was A Cry in the Closet Day

Another entry from early last month...

Not too long ago my husband had wanted me to find some weight lifting stuff out of the Army room and send it to him. This is our spare bedroom where all the Army garb lives. Boots, uniforms, dresser with Army undies (I'm sure he'd appreciate my calling them that manly term). All his plaques and awards - in boxes. He refuses to have an "I love me wall" in our home he says.

I avoid the room at all costs. I'd had a good several days and the minute I walked in the Army room I felt the huge emptiness of my life without him engulfing me. I couldn't find the things he wanted. I went to the closet and there were all his BDUs hanging just like he'd left them.

My mind screamed, "don't do it! DO NOT DO THAT!!" And, I did. I leaned over and smelled the collar. In an instant - it was as if he were in the room. The many nights he'd come in the door in those uniforms and I'd hugged him. The feeling of the material on my face, it brought such strong feelings to the surface. Smelling that distinct smell the uniforms seem to have from the starch - and wishing just for one second he was standing there so I could hug him. Before it was over, I'm in the closet, face buried in one of his uniforms sobbing.

Since then, there have been several times I've ventured in the room to cry in the closet. It's the closest I can get to him and sometimes I just need to feel close to him for sanity's sake. I miss him so deeply and just being able to smell the smell that brings feelings of love, laughter, comfort, safety, security, passion, happiness - and more all rolled into one is my saving grace.

Some women will sleep in or with their husband's t-shirt. I go hang out in his closet and sob on a uniform wishing he were standing there in it. Therapy anyone?

Was yesterday THE rock bottom? I hope so...
Yesterday was the hardest day of them all thus far and I'm fearful to even admit that. Afraid of what tomorrow or next month may bring. I'm finding that each time I think, "this is the worst thing I've ever been through in my life," that God is not far behind to prove that no - worse things can happen.

The day he left. I thought saying good-bye to him was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do in my life. I thought it was rock bottom. Things would get better from there.

November, the deadliest month was emotionally hard. The fear, the anxiety. I thought once the holidays passed, certainly rock bottom I would not see again.

January, my husband lost two of his close friends in an instant. A commander and First Sergeant of another company. Again, rock bottom. So many tears - and emotions that I'd never experienced in my life. I thought, get through February, spring will come and you will NOT see rock bottom again.

And then there was yesterday...

I posted yesterday morning determined to keep track of my emotions throughout the day through my blog. That's why I started this. To follow my emotions as they happened. To somehow eventually take all the info of what I'd learned and been through and possibly do something positive with it that could help others in the future.

The events that transpired afterwards - well, all bets were off. It was all I could do to keep myself upright and not a crumpled mess in the kitchen floor begging God for strength.

Soon after I posted about the attacks, I sent an instant message to my friend here in town. Her husband is in another company at the same place as my husband. I hadn't heard from my husband and she hadn't heard from hers. We both said we'd have our cells nearby all day and agreed to keep each other posted.

I sent out an email to our parents. I wanted to cut them off at the pass with emails and calls asking if I'd heard from him. I told them I hadn't but we'd been told last week communication would be sketchy this week. I'd probably hear from him on Friday.

The rest of the morning I followed the news online. The more I read, the more worried I became.

It was time to go pick up our oldest from school. I knew my friend and I would be standing outside the school talking after they were let out. I was looking forward to just talking to someone else living it at the moment. My friend works, so she always arrives about five minutes or so after the bell rings. My babies and her baby wait in the hall for her and then we all walk out together.

We waited and didn't see her daughter come down the hall. My daughter sees her teacher and asks where her friend is. The teacher says that she left early today. I immediately am listening closely now. I take a few steps forward and can feel the tears coming into my eyes and I ask her if everything is ok. Her teacher says she's not sure, that they had called from the office telling her to send her up to the office, that Mom was there to pick her up early. By now the tears are on the edge of rolling out of my eyes. She says she's sorry she doesn't know more. I thank her quickly and put my trusty "never leave home without them" sunglasses on and thank her. The babies and I make our way to the car.

I get home and immediately send her an email saying I'm worried and to please let me know everything is ok. She usually lets me know when she'll be picking her up early so I know not to wait. I thought it was just too much - her daughter was fine this morning. She was fine this morning. My imagination got the best of me.

I go back to the headlines and read the latest on the deaths in Iraq. Then the real closet day begins. It's them. It's not Marines or Army from somewhere else. It's our loved ones and now my friend has picked up her daughter early for an unknown reason and I'm petrified.

An email comes in. It's from a spouse I've never met, but one who is on my distribution list for FRG info. We've emailed a few times, but we've never met in person nor have we ever talked on the phone. She says "Are you there?" I email back and say I am and ask if everything is ok. She emails back and says no. Can she call me? I email her back my number, tell her I'm sitting by the phone.

First, she has to confirm I am the wife of so and so (more to do with rank than my husband - all 'bout the "rank" you know ughh). I say I am and she said she thought so. She said she just "can't sit on this info any longer and needed to tell someone."

I'm keeping my cool. I'm talking calmly and softly - she sounds wound up tight. Now, this is the part I'm not clear on. Either a soldier over there called her - or a soldier over there called a friend of hers to pass on the info. Either way, a soldier got to a phone even though COMMUNICATION IS CUT - and called home to interfere with the way information is suppose to be passed on to the families.

She says this friend called to tell her all five were our people, but HER husband was not one of them. He just wanted her to know that her husband is safe and ok so she didn't have to worry about what the press was saying. Then of course, instead of just being thankful her husband is still on this earth, she just HAD to tell someone.

The only question I asked was, "How reliable is this person?"

She replied, "Well, he works directly for the COL."

My response was a tart, "well that doesn't necessarily mean anything." She says true, but she knows he's reliable.

I guess it never dawned on her that MY HUSBAND COULD BE ONE OF THEM. How wonderful that she knows her loved one is safe, but now I know that the press is reporting their Division. I know my friend picked up her child early. Now I have this spouse from our company's FRG calling to tell me all five were OUR people according to a source that is over there and who should NOT have been on the phone. Thankfully she had to go quickly - because I was two steps away from reaching through the phone and wringing her neck.

I walked to the kitchen. Much like the day he left, I sort of walked around in circles in the house trying to figure out what I'm going to do. I pick up the phone and call Rear D and ask to speak to our Commander. He gets on the phone and I tell him what the press is reporting. I don't mention names, but that I'd just got off the phone with a spouse I've never met who says it is our people. That the rumor mill is in full swing and I thought he might want to know. He said he knew - I thanked him for his time and we hung up.

He didn't confirm or deny. No denial is as good as a yes without me even asking. I didn't bother to ask. I knew he couldn't tell me anyway.

And the tears begin.

I hadn't heard from my husband since Sunday. Not really unusual, but communication has gotten so much better these last months it is a bit odd. He doesn't tell me anything that goes on over there - we prefer to talk about what he's reading, what our babies are doing, what he is looking forward to doing to the house when he gets home, about retirement.

I'm standing in the kitchen again looking out into the backyard where the pond is - and the patio set we purchased right before he deployed that he never had a chance to sit at even once. The only thing I could think of was to call Mother. By now, it's around 4 pm. She's still at work, but there's no way I can wait until she gets home.

She answers the phone and I say, "Hey, are you busy?"

She says, "No, how can I help you?"

She doesn't know it's me. I said, "Mom, it's me." She says, "Oh my goodness, what is wrong? Are you ok? Are the babies ok? Is it Jim?"

I start trying to make my way through the last hour of everything and end with, "I don't want to have to live the rest of my life without him. I don't know why this woman had to call ME - and now I'm scared that my doorbell is going to ring and, I don't know what to do. Please tell me what to do!!"

In other words, I'm coming apart at the seams. Literally. And Mother is now upset. She loves my husband like her own she often says. She thinks he's as wonderful as I do. And the only thing she can say is she doesn't know what to tell me other than pray and have faith that he's ok. That if I need her, she'll be on her way and she'd do anything to be closer so she could be here with me while all this is going on.

I immediately felt so awful for calling her. What did I want her to tell me? Now, I've done nothing but worry someone else because someone worried me - and everything feels as if it's spinning out of control. We talk for a few more minutes and I tell her I'll call her tonight. That I'm ok, I just needed to hear her voice and not to worry. I'm going to get supper started and get the babies baths and on to bed. We hang up after telling each other we love each other.

I catch my friend on her cell phone. She said her daughter had a bit of a tummy ache so she picked her up early, but everything is ok. We promise to keep the other informed when/if we hear from our FRGs. Her FRG is so much better than ours. I figure it will be from her I will get any news at all through official channels.

I get my babies supper and baths and try to keep it together. They both get tucked in with extra hugs and kisses. I'm watching them hug each other before night night and feel so blessed. My little people that God has trusted me to raise. They are so precious and even in the midst of all this, I feel the prayers - because I'm still sane enough to thank God for our children and for trusting me enough to have them and share my life with them. They are safe, tucked in and now it's just me.

I walk into the Army room and go for the closet. I had held it all in as long as I could. It was a cry in the closet kind of day for sure...

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