I didn’t cry. Nothing. Not even a watery eye. My kids didn’t cry either. My son just said, “Hope you have a good flight, Dad!” and hopped back in the car. You’d think we had just put my husband on a plane to attend a tradeshow in Chicago instead of sending him off to war—again.
Is this what happens? Is this what years of constant deployment have done to us? Saying good-bye has become so commonplace that we are numb to the experience? I can’t decide if our blasé attitudes are good or bad.
I wasn’t ready to see him go yet, it feels like he just got home, but what choice did I have? It’s like I’m on a treadmill and I have to keep running. I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If I quit, I’m going to fly off and end up with a nasty friction burn on my face because there is no emergency stop button. The treadmill won’t stop for me or any other military spouse.
I was actually surprised that it was so easy to say good-bye. All afternoon, I had felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I was exhausted and the raging tension headache didn’t even have the decency to sneak up on me.
Right now, it feels like any other night. The kids are getting their showers. The dog is eyeing me, trying to decide if he has the green light to jump up and join me on the couch. I’ve signed all the school notebooks. It’s business as usual around here.
Except, he’s gone. Gone away to a place that exists for most Americans only in TV sound bites and front-page headlines. Iraq and Afghanistan long ago melded into one place for me. I call it Iraqistan. I know there are huge differences between the two countries, but at this moment, I could care less about the reasons we fight in either theater. It doesn’t matter. Iraqistan sees more of my husband than my kids and I do. It feels like he really lives over there and only pops in on us for visits.
I’m sure it will hit me in a few days. It will start to sting when I realize I can’t pick up the phone when I have something I need to tell him. I’ll remember that he’s not coming home for dinner only after I’ve grabbed four plates out of the cupboard. I’ll remember he’s gone when my coffee pot doesn’t magically turn on tomorrow morning. If nothing else, it will hit me this weekend when he’s not around and two beautiful kids are looking to me to fill the void he’s left behind.
Or at least I hope it will hit me. I’m afraid I won’t feel anything. I don’t want to get used to him being gone. I don’t want it to feel normal. If I’m already past the point of crying, what comes next?