Jul 23, 2012

The One With the Big Surprise

I was not really prepared for annual training this year. I blocked it from my mind - forcing myself into denial that it was going to happen. But once a year it comes around, so when those two weeks of annual training came knocking on our door - it wasn't a major shock. It was just reality. He was going to have to leave for two weeks. It was happening - like it or not. But still I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to deal with it. But as I watched my husband pack, I realized it was here again like it or not. Those dreaded two weeks were back. I wouldn't get to see him. I wouldn't get to talk to him. It would almost be like he didn't exist in my life, except for the fact that he does exist. I would pretend everything was normal and I could make life go on like everything was as it should be, but his absence would leave a missing piece. I would always feel like something was missing. Because something was missing. It was wrong without him. Normal would never be normal until he returned.

The morning of annual training came too soon and we were up at early o'clock. Much too early for my liking on a normal day, but there was nothing normal about this day. He finished getting ready and I watched him mostly in silence. What do you say? Words escaped me, and then before I knew it, it was time. It may only be two weeks but without being able to talk on a regular basis it felt longer. The separation I could handle even though I hated it; it was the silence that made it all so much harder. But as I watched him drive away, I remained in a state of denial. It hadn't really hit me yet, so I went about my day as if he had just headed to work and all was normal.

Rationally I knew that he was gone. I knew that he wasn't going to be coming home that evening, but it just wasn't going to hit me until that evening when he was supposed to be home and I was still alone. I watched Grey's Anatomy. I played the Sims on the computer. I kept myself busy. But still not realization. Until I started to get hungry. I was going to be eating alone. I was going to be alone for the next fourteen days. When I go to sleep at night. When I wake up in the morning. When I eat my meals. He wasn't going to be there to talk to about my day. I was completely alone now. 

I had prepared myself for the silence that comes with annual training. It was always easier to prepare to hear nothing from him and then get an awesome surprise if I did hear from him, than to expect to hear from him but never do. So imagine my surprise when I did get a text from him Monday evening, the first day away: "Whatcha doing tonight?"

"Watching Grey's Anatomy, looking pathetic. You?"

"Doing Marine stuff." I figured he was able to sneak a text in after all. They were only twenty minutes away, surely he could plug his phone in somewhere or maybe he would be able to use his solar charger. Maybe we would be able to talk after all.

After a short pause, he finally sends another message: "Well, I've got a surprise for you. You up for a phone call in about 20 minutes?"

"Yes!" Was the boy crazy? - Of course I wanted a phone call. I waited somewhat impatiently for my phone call to come and finally it did. Yes, it had only been 12 hours but it was good to hear his voice regardless.

We were only on the phone a few seconds before I hear a sound from the garage. I realize it's the garage door. Immediately my heart begins to race: "Is that you or is someone breaking into the house?" I had prepared myself to not even talk to him so was it even possible that he was pulling into the garage right now? I couldn't stop my mind from going straight to the fact that someone was opening the garage door and I was about to have to run for my life and my baby's life. I was already a little freaked out to be in that house alone and now on the first night alone, the garage door was opening when it shouldn't be.

I got to my feet, but could hear the mischievous chuckle now. It was him! He was home! Why was he home? Was he okay? What was going on? I swung the door leading to the garage open and sure enough there he was, smiling.

As he found something to eat, he explained that they were being sent home at night due to the heat. I never thought I would be so thankful for this extreme heat in my life. I was over-the-moon excited. He was home. He was going to be coming home each night. I wouldn't have to deal with the silence or separation because it was just as if he was headed off to his normal job and then home again that night. I curled close to him that night. Everything was right in the world. Things were exactly as they were supposed to be. After preparing myself for worst, I got the biggest surprise when the best happened.

Of course now a week after my big surprise, I lay alone in bed again. And I have been for the last five nights.  They headed down to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas to do some shooting ranges. But my quiet nights would be over soon. In a couple days he would be back home again and although annual training wouldn't be quite done yet, he would be back home each night and things would be right again.

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