A month into the Afghanistan deployment, we’ve finally co-ordinated our schedules so we can Skype daily. (Woo hoo!)
My sailor is better at technical stuff like this than I am. He tells me we’re separated by eleven and a half time zones. (Yes, apparently time zones come in halves as well as wholes–who knew?) What this means to us is that he has just returned to his tiny room after the working day and I am enjoying my first coffee of the morning when we chat.
I can’t convey how excited I was the first time his ruggedly handsome face appeared on my screen. (I tingle to think how thrilling it will be to see him in the flesh in seven or eight months if a computer image is this rousing!)
A few sessions in and I’m still delighted to talk to him as evidenced by my big goofy grin when the connection is made. However, I might have to disable the small box in the corner of my screen that shows what he sees at his end. I’m not used to watching myself while I hold a conversation and I’m fascinated by my image.
I constantly play with my hair, arranging it and poking at it. This morning I got up extra early so I’d have time to slap on some make-up and slip into a pretty summer dress, but I’m still not happy with my hair. Certainly I need a trim, maybe high lights, possibly a straightening treatment.
“You can’t keep your eyes off yourself,” my sailor comments as I tuck an errant curl back into place. “You’re turning into a narcissist!”
“I don’t know about that.”
I’m not a narcissist, but after weeks of being a selfless, single mom it is nice to talk about me for a change.
We go out for a family dinner the night before the sailor leaves for Afghanistan. At this point we aren’t sure when he’ll return. He might be home for Christmas or perhaps not until Easter.
I measure the holidays in turkeys. He will miss one turkey dinner for sure (Thanksgiving)–perhaps three (Christmas and Easter).
I try to be optimistic and cheerful, but I don’t quite make it. I’m worried sick about him and I haven’t been sleeping well.
Worst of all, I don’t know what to say. I love you is fairly obvious as is be careful, but there should be far more profound things to share. He is positive and upbeat and I don’t want to spoil his mood with my apprehension.
We have one last coffee together at the airport before he goes through security to the boarding gate.
When I get back to the car after saying good-bye, I receive his text: I love you and I miss you already.
I reply: Me, too. Take care of yourself and come home safely.
Maybe that’s all I needed to say all along.
The dark side of that debonair uniform and the collection of medals my sailor sports across his chest is a single word: Afghanistan.
Sailors are supposed to serve aboard ships and live in pretty seaside towns. Nowhere in that vision is a journey to a desert on the other side of the world. He assures me that he will be safe, working at a quiet job in an office that is, above all, safe. (He repeats that word like a mantra every time I question him about his upcoming deployment–safe, safe, safe.)
I understand the mission is being scaled back and he won’t be involved in a combat role, but I also recall the list of fallen Canadians that scrolls across the TV screen every Remembrance Day and I worry.
I am outraged when I read stories of women being abused or killed and little girls denied an education because of their gender and I think, someone needs to step up and protect these vulnerable people, but my resolve weakens when it is my husband who will be in danger.
We will have SKYPE and email for private communication and Facebook for more public updates. I’m able to access news reports twenty-four hours a day, learning about the situation there in live time.
I don’t know if that makes it easier or more difficult. Wives left behind when their husbands went to earlier wars didn’t have reports of every battle, every casualty. Did they worry less because the news wasn’t so immediate?