My life came to an abrupt halt today.....or so it seemed. Deployment is a life altering event that many families across America experience once, twice (who knows, 5 times these days) in their lives. I have the misfortune of experiencing it for the second time in two years. Nothing can prepare you for the imminent emptiness that accompanies a spouse's seemingly interminable absence. Although I am feeling that said emptiness right now, I don't think I've quite grasped the concept of 15 months. Right now, I can pretend that maybe Jon is working an especially long day or he's off on a field exercise and will be back in a few days time. But in time, I guess my brain will finally register that he won't walk through that door for a very long time.
The last two weeks have been such a whirlwind....they just flew by so fast. The Tuesday after the Veteran's Day weekend while I was making my morning commute to work, the realization just hit me that I only have a very short time with Jon before he leaves. To this day, I don't know what triggered that realization. Panic settled in at that time....and so the tears started. I think I cried the whole way to work and part of the way back every day that week. I couldn't concentrate at work and couldn't even get through a little 5 page scientific paper. I had the sudden urge to take that Thursay off through the time that Jon left. "What's the point?" I told myself. "Jon is working such long hours now, I'd be sitting at home by myself." So I just took the Monday through Wednesday off before Thanksgiving and the Monday and Tuesday afterwards. I had a lot to do during that time too. In less than a week's time, I had a new lease signed for a house up in Tucson, utilities set up, and the whole house in Sierra Vista moved out of. So I had two houses to clean on top of that......and then Thanksgiving.
I really enjoyed seeing my family and my in-laws and my new baby niece, but the timing for the trip couldn't have been worse. I would have much rather done things at a more leisurely pace and just relax with my baby during our last few days together. Instead, we were caught up in endless traveling and running around, trying to do everything we wanted on top of what Jon's parents had already planned for us to do.
After Thanksgiving, Jon still had to work, taking care of various things for his company before he left. I was so upset that he had to work up to the very last day! He was so busy that we were busy running around on our last day trying to take care of things that should have been taken care of weeks ago. This includes canceling certian phone plans, other services, getting an international driver's licence (Jon wants to meet in Germany for R&R), and getting a power of attorney so I could take care of the house sale while he's gone. Not to mention, he hadn't even packed yet for his trip! By the time all that was taken care of, we only had an hour to lie down and try to sleep before we had to get up and get ready to go down to Ft. Huachuca.
So we didn't get any snuggle time or quality alone time.....just less than an hour of sleep. My eyes were so tired and achy from crying all day, yet I couldn't sleep very well. The drive down to Ft. Huachuca was hard, knowing this would be the last time Jon and I would travel this trip together for a while. I surprised myself by being able to pull myself together and keep my eyes dry during the farewell ceremony, but once I got into the car alone to drive back up to Tucson International, the salty tears flowed again.
As goodbye time approached, I developed a bad case of nerves. I was shaking uncontrollably and had a very unsettled feeling in my stomach (probably also a result of no sleep). Jon was able to get me a security pass so I could accompany him to the gate. A few times while we were sitting there together waiting, I thought I was going to break down in front of everybody there. Maybe it was because I was so tired, but the tears wouldn't come. It wasn't until Jon had to board the plane that the tears came down again. I held onto our one last hug and kiss, trying to take in his smell as much as I could and mumbled something about taking care of himself and a very clear "I love you so much." And with that, he was off.
I dreaded the drive home alone and walking into an empty house. Explaining to your happy, welcoming dog that you are not in the mood for tail-wagging and jumping is impossible. "All I need," I thought to myself, "is sleep." When I walked into the bedroom and saw the closet full of Jon's clothes and his clothes from yesterday sitting on top of the dresser, I completely lost it. All the composure I had maintained up to this point just melted away. Standing in the middle of the room with his t-shirt up to my face, I cried like I haven't cried in a long time. Long audible bawling that had Sammy sitting there looking up at me as if saying "What's wrong with you Mommy?"
Crying the whole time, I went throughout the house.
There's the empty bed awaiting me. The pillow still smells like him. Look in the shower--his shampoo is still there. Good thing I threw his towel in the laundry and his toothbrush away. That would have been too much. In the living room--there is the leftover box of chocolates we shared just last night. His fleece is sitting on top of the kitchen table--it still smells like him. Here's his cell phone and his sunglasses and his car keys. I can't even call him anymore.
Tears, tears, tears. So much that I have a thin film of salt on my eyelashes. He's everywhere and all this is just too much. Even songs on the radio have an effect on me because I have so many memories associated with them. My body aches. I'm hungry but can't eat. Sleep helps, but once I wake up the pain is right there. This all better pass soon or I'm going to drive myself crazy. For now, I'm just going to cling to Jon's fleece and t-shirt--that's all I have of him that I can snuggle against.