The alarm pierced the morning, and my stomach burned with hot rocks. That had been happening every morning for the last few weeks, but today it was especially bad. I tried to ignore it, pretend it wasn’t going off . I even shut it off quickly and hoped he hadn’t heard it. If he didn’t hear it, we wouldn’t have to get up, and if we didn’t have to get up, the rest of the day didn’t have to happen. But, he was already up. He crawled back into bed next to me, and snuggled up close. I don’t want you to go, I said.
But, he had to, and he did. It was a long morning that went by quickly. I don’t want to relate it, right now, because my mind is in a good place. I like those waves to last as long as possible. I will say that he left a gargantuan hole. His departure broke my heart immensely and has destroyed our routine. Now, in some ways, we are re-shaping our days and re-centering our lives.
Sometimes, I am okay, and other moments I am really sad and angry. During those negative waves, the emotion is so intense and so hard to overcome. I quickly realized not to fight it. I just let myself cry. Once the crying is done, I usually feel better and enter the next wave of being okay. My prayer is that the okay-waves start lasting longer and come more frequently than the intense negative waves.
This morning, I started having a bad negative-wave. I just went into overdrive. I took a shower, got dressed, did my hair. I have to get dressed and do my hair, because doing this makes me feel better. I came out, and lit a fire. Yes, I started a fire all by myself. Not that I’ve never done this before, but doing things for myself makes me feel like I am fulfilling my mission. I am fulfilling my promise to hold down the homefront. I am staying confident and adding warmth to our house. I see the irony. The unit spouses’ motto for this deployment is, “Keep the home fires burning.” I intend to.
I see myself like this:
Standing in the middle of a giant football field, with the stands full. It’s dark, but the stadium lights are lighting up the field. All of our friends and family are watching as I play in my first game. Only thing is, this game is the most important of the season and I know the plays and victory rely on solely on me. I am standing there, facing our family and friends, waving my arms up and down, asking for the cheering and rooting to get louder. For me, the cheering and rooting signifies the prayers and affirmation. The game is long and arduous and I am playing against a team of eclectic players. Terrorists, military orders, someone named separation, even my own self-doubt. Each quarter finds me closer to victory, though each lasts so long. Three months. The game, right now, is only seconds in. But, I am still leading on the scoreboard. And I guarantee that when the last second ticks off the board, when the game is over, and the stands are still hopefully full of our cheering friends and family, my team will have won. At the end of that game, I will still be standing, though covered in the blood, sweat, and tears. And, just as this battle ends, that one lone and empty seat in the stands will be occupied. Because for me, victory is only attained when my husband comes home.