It felt like a prolonged sunset–there was a sense of relaxation and letting go after long and arduous work. There was a definitive and nearly tangible sense of evading peace, something that had been missing before. He was home.
I’ll never forget seeing his real live self walk into the airport. Seeing our daughter instantly recognize her Daddy and leap into his arms. I’ll never forget the feeling of that first hug–a real hug from my husband. Giving him a kiss for the first time in months. The whole way home, I kept wanting to reach out and touch him, to make sure it was real. We were finally whole again, in so many ways.
I prayed time would crawl. And it did. As I look back, R&R seemed to have lasted a month, instead of a mere fourteen days. But, oh, was it sweet. Mornings of sleeping in with my husband, sliding over and cuddling. Waking up our daughter together, having breakfast, lunch, dinner. Together. Everything. Together. Vacations, family visits, Mass. Together.
He felt the baby kick. Elizabeth played with him on the floor. I hugged him. So much. I wanted to take very opportunity to touch him as possible, and I did. Hugs, kisses, holding his hand. We cooked together, talked together, prayed together. We shared laughs over silly things again.
And now he’s gone. Again. The house has that pervading emptiness, and my heart aches deeply. The man I love has returned to the mission. And now, I sit by a computer and phone constantly again. I wait and worry. Again.
This lifestyle is so hard, with its ups and downs. Watching my daughter frantically search for Daddy all afternoon and evening, desperately calling his name. Hearing her scream from her crib every few minutes this evening, hoping he’ll come in again and snuggle with her in the dark. Feeling as though this pain in my chest will never subside, that seven months is awfully long time to go without seeing one’s best friend.
I will never take my husband for granted again. I did before. His presence, his realness. The constant opportunity to tangibly feel his presence. The help, the silent little favors done everyday. Someone to talk to, sit with, live with.
I know that will come. I know we will be family again someday. Until then, I move forward for the same reason I shared with him in the car today: I move forward for him. When the chips are down, when I feel as though I can’t go on, I tell myself I must. For my Soldier. And I do.
So, tonight, as the pain and heartache tear into me, I move forward. I take each breath and put one foot forward for him. We will get through this, just as he said. We had to say good-bye so that we can say hello again. And, God willing, next time we say hello, it won’t be followed by another good-bye.