Thursday, February 18, 2010

Well, Now What Do We Do?


Craig didn't actually leave this morning; I wrote most of this the day he left and saved it, to fill in a few details, until he safely made it over there.

Well, now what do we do?
This seems to be the reoccurring question that plagues me when we first send Craig off on one of his extended trips away. All this build up to the big moment. Plans, preparation, anxiety, anticipation. Then bam, he's gone. We load up the car, say our good byes, leave him at some airport or another, then come home to a quiet house.
On any other occasion, I'd welcome a quiet house.
Today? Not so much.

Sure my laundry demands have been cut by a third; I won't have to trip over big boots on the bedroom floor; I won't be bothered by a pile of clothes of an undetermined cleanliness factor in a pile by the bed. Despite all that, Craig's long-term absence casts an odd feeling throughout the house. It's hard to explain, really. I'm an independent sort of person, so it's not a feeling of despair. I don't feel desperate or empty.
Sometimes I feel bad that I don't fall apart when Craig leaves. I should, right? I'm not throwing a party or anything, but I'm not exactly a red faced, puddle of tears, either.

Like I said, it's hard to explain.
In the 13 1/2 years we've been married, Craig has been gone several times. It's what you sign up for when you sell your soul to Uncle Sam. Compared to many military families we've met along the way, our separations have been minimal. But still frequent enough that we've grown accustomed to the them. Before Caroline (and 9/11), the trips were short (in relative military terms, that is) and I relished the silence. It's no surprise, being an introvert, that I enjoy quiet time.
When Caroline came along, the separations became harder. And not for the selfish reason that I was suddenly missing my go-to child watcher when I needed time away from the crazy. It's far easier to send your husband away than it is to send off the father of your child. Caroline, much like me, is a business as usual kind of girl and isn't the slightest bit emotionally needy, but she's a kid and she adores her dad.
Tough girl or not, it still won't be easy for her.

We sent Craig off this morning.
Off on a journey he enters with some rightful trepidation. On a journey that involved (unbeknownst to us at the time) a myriad of travel, weather and mechanical glitches (and a shaving cream explosion!) that could fill the pages of a book.

And delays. Oh, the delays!
He embarked upon a journey that required, besides a duffel bag stuffed with gear, a cheerful heart and a good sense of humor. If you only knew the bumps in the road he encountered along the way. The story is long. A true comedy of errors. Thankfully, I married a good natured, easy going and patient guy. Unfortunately, all three of those character traits were put to the ultimate test whilst upon his grand voyage overseas. Even the most patient person is bound to break when he is tested repeatedly.

We woke before the roosters and drove him to the airport so he could catch a 6 am flight. Oh, the plight of the military wife! Caroline, in her usual chipper fashion, bounded out of bed, raring to go. Why is it that she'll happily wake at 3:45 am for an event like this, when rising at 7:20 on a school morning seems like such a chore?

It was a dark, quiet drive. Mostly because it was 3:45 am, but also because we knew what we were facing at the departure gate. We're well versed on the military separation front. And yet, the drop off doesn't get any easier.
I was sad for me, but more so, I was sad for Caroline.
Even more, I was sad for Craig.

Caroline and I will be fine; we're tough girls. And, not to mention, we're also in our own home, in our own comfy beds, surrounded by familiar faces and with our own predictable schedules intact. Craig is the one facing the real hardship. Caroline and I will go about our business, as always, but he'll be away. Secluded, bored and missing us. He'll work long days and miss his favorite TV shows. We'll be safe at home, watching too much TV and eating too much ice cream.

We try our best to look at the bright side. It's all you can do.
For Craig, he uses deployment as a time to adhere to a stricter diet and exercise regime: the Deployment Diet. The extra money deployed soldiers receive, plus tax free pay, is another incentive. During the drive home this morning, as I was too confused and distracted by the dark, unfamiliar roads to continue in my teary eyed state, Caroline and I tried to come up with our positives. We came up with two things: Caroline will no longer have to struggle for control of the upstairs TV and we won't have to hear Craig snore.

Two undeniably positive facts.

The road to this departure has been filled with many twists, turns, u-turns, hair pulling and sheer annoyance. It almost didn't happen. Not today, anyway. It would be of utmost help if people, who are tasked to do ONE job, actually did their ONE job. Craig and his deployment buddy found themselves in a situation yesterday afternoon where they might not get their tickets in time, thanks to the morons who didn't do their jobs. It was frustrating, to say the least.

We're sort of used to things like that; when we left Hawaii, we didn't get our tickets until the day we left because someone messed up our orders, authorizing me to travel to Wisconsin, instead of California, where we were headed. I've never even been to Wisconsin.
There have been other instances,as well, but I won't bore you with the details.
At one point yesterday I was just plain fed up. Mad because the negligence of others was impeding the process. It sounded like I WANTED Craig to leave, which wasn't the case. I was just annoyed with being strung along. I wanted something to work properly.

The first time.
Is that too much to ask?

Obviously the proper paper work came through, or I wouldn't be sitting here writing this. Oddly enough, after I pleaded for finality, having everything finalized offered no relief.

I'm not going to whine; I haven't a reason to whine. We signed up for this gig and it's Craig's duty.
No one likes a whiner, anyway.

In military deployment terms, six months is a cake walk. Considering the alternatives, we're thankful for six months; it really could be SO much worse. My non-military neighbors and acquaintances find this hard to believe, but ask any military wife. She'll heartily agree.

Sure, deployments of any length are less than ideal. Craig will work harder than ever, in less than ideal conditions. He'll miss out on some fun things. He'll come home to a kid who, at this rate, will have grown 6 inches and lost 6 more baby teeth, in those 6 months.

Even still, six months or twelve, we'll miss him all the same.

Caroline and I are, as expected, doing fine. Although, since Craig has left we've had two monumental snowstorms. I pulled a muscle in my back while shoveling all the snow, came down with the plague and now Craig's car won't start.
All that is left is for the computer to blow up.

See, everything is great!

Just great.

4 comments:

Sissy said...

This is a really well written and touching post, Alison. I am so glad you wrote this down so that you would have the memories later.

Here's hoping the months pass by quickly and Craig is home soon!

Love you.

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nancy said...

Um, I agree with the above comment, and Sissy's too.

Alison said...

Thanks Sissy, Mom and random Asian kinky spammer.