The rest of this very long post is one I wrote originally on the 7th of June, just a few days after I received the news. I've postponed publishing it until now and therefore edited a bunch to make the time references real (and added some stuff too), but I've purposefully tried not to edit out any of the emotion because while I don't feel nearly as distressed by it now as I did then, I do want to remember how it felt. Crazy, I guess?!?
I have been a military spouse before. Scott was on active duty when we were first married and without children. He has been in the Guard or Reserves since he left active duty many years ago. He was even mobilized with his Reserve unit for 18 months while we were still living in Alabama, and that was what prompted our move home to where we are now... me being pregnant with
I think that the people who know me in real life can attest to the fact that I'm normally an "emotional flat liner". I am never one to be easily excited, take anything to heart that isn't my emotion to own, get too upset about things, etc. Don't get me wrong, I LIVE life. I spend my days laughing with and loving on the Four Silly Sisters, for goodness sake. I think my emotional condition is partially a result of genetic makeup and at least partially because I know God is ultimately in control of the whole universe... how could I think Him to be "messing up" what is going on in my little part of it?!?
All that being said, I was in and out of a funk for a few days after receiving a phone call from Scott a month ago while in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Our conversation started out normally, and then while I was attempting to unload the girls from the car, it took a turn. He casually mentioned going to Iraq for a year in August, and by the way training would start late the following week. At this point I actually thought, well if he is going better to be leaving soon (see that no emotion thing?!?)... kind of like ripping off a band aid vs. slowly removing it. It's going to hurt either way!
As is typical of my experience with the ARMY thus far, give things a day or two and the info will change. By the next day he was pretty sure he would be going, but training isn't to begin until 15 July. So, guess what? Now we've begun to s l o w l y peel off our band aid.... (keep in mind I wrote this part a month ago) We're in that limbo state where we're full of unanswered questions and mountains of paperwork. Just the massive paperwork change over of all our health/dental insurance from our regular carriers to Tricare, our association with the DEERS system, wills, power of attorneys, and all the other paperwork yuckiness makes me twitch to think about.
What and how exactly do we explain it all to the girls? Scott typically works a few days away and then is home for a few days as an airline pilot, so him coming and going short term is something the girls completely understand already. In fact, they all even understand that he's a pilot because every single plane that flies overhead receives accolades of "Hey Daddy", and "Daddy's air-pane" from our back yard. They don't, however, understand the concept of months or years just yet. We've been trying to prepare Ella, but I'm sure she still has no idea. She informed me the other day that the phrase "back from Iraq" rhymes nicely, her words. She is using it to convey lots of thoughts.... like when daddy comes "back from Iraq" she wants to get a new dog.
Please don't get me wrong. I am incredibly grateful for all the thousands of blessings we have. I am just getting used to the idea that our regular lives are going to be put on hold for a year and perhaps allowing myself to wallow a little bit on occasion. I'm especially sad for all the things that Scott will miss and hopeful that I'll do a great job of keeping the girls in touch with him while he is away.
Scott seems to be a bit more relaxed and even excited about the opportunity. He feels incredibly blessed to be living the life he has... able to live where we want, working a regular job he loves, able to provide for our four girls and myself, and doing it all with the freedom that most Americans take for granted. He doesn't! Even though he doesn't relish the idea of being away for an entire year (13 months including training) and missing out on Christmas, birthdays and all the other stuff in between, he feels compelled to earn some of the freedoms that he has been given. Fortunately the job he'll have there, though not flying, seems like it will be a good fit for him, and the unit is a good one too. He's already begun working his way through a long list of things to do that will make life easier for me while he's away. Next up, he's to start video taping himself reading books and telling stories so that they girls will be able to see him on tv occasionally. That will suffice until we find out what kind of communications we'll have back and forth between here and Iraq.
I'm sure I'll feel better once some of the TO DO's are behind us and we're on to the good stuff of just spending quality time with him before he heads off. The limbo part is the worst. Ultimately, it will all be fine because God is in control.