I have written and stopped myself from publishing two posts this week. An unfinished poem. A piece about Boston.
Pages of empty spaces.
My husband has been gone since the last Saturday in March. He missed Easter. Spring break. The camellias in full bloom; the heady scent of the hyacinths; the flutter of cherry, dogwood, redbud, and pear blossoms; the greening of the deep woods behind our house; the first azaleas; the progress of the fast-growing hostas; the blue twilights and warm nights; and the annual frog orgy and hatching of tadpoles in our garden pond. He's a Master Gardener, so it seems especially unfair for him to miss the best part of spring in Virginia.
April in Afghanistan is not comparable--or so he tells me.
While we have been heartsick and obsessed with the IEDs that killed three and maimed many in Boston, my mind has also been preoccupied with the IEDs he may encounter on his travels.
The last time he was in Afghanistan, mortars were fired into the compound where he was staying. I know military members and their spouses deal with these sorts of concerns all the time, but my husband isn't in the military and dare I say it, "I didn't sign up for this." Unless you count that promise I made about "for better or for worse." ; )
I've told my teens many times that you never just marry a person. You marry their family, their history, their baggage as well as their accomplishments. When I was 20 and walking down the aisle in my mother's wedding dress, I never stopped to consider that I was also marrying my husband's career.
I'm grateful for the benefits and opportunities his work has provided for us, but I regret the hours, days, weeks, and months it's stolen from us. He gets up at 4 a.m. to head to work and gets home close to 6 p.m. He's often exhausted and always rushed, and I've seen the toll the constant sleep deprivation has taken on him. He travels A LOT, usually leaving on a weekend so he can be at his destination by Monday morning, and so we sacrifice even more of our scant time together. He goes all over the world, sometimes to locations that are less than safe.
I wait for the short, spotty e-mails he pecks out on his phone--when he can get a signal and a moment. I write to him every day, whether I hear from him or not.
"Stuff" happens when he's gone. From serious medical problems and family crises to problems with plumbing, cars, major appliances, storms, sick kids, whatever. All those challenges in life are magnified when I'm dealing with them alone. While he works long days wherever he is, I work long days compensating for his absence.
Most of the time, I deal matter-of-factly with whatever is thrown my way (as does he ), but sometimes I get hammered by feelings of frustration, longing, guilt, hurt, loneliness, fear, all the while telling myself I CANNOT FALL APART, my family is depending on me. I'm guessing he feels the same way.
And while I don't like to entertain Worry, sometimes it walks in the door and takes a seat at the table, courtesy of the daily news. This week as we viewed photos of the ghastly injuries from Monday's bombing, Worry whispered in my ear: "Your husband is traveling in the land of IEDs and mortars and helicopter crashes and enemy combatants."
As I deal with his temporary absence, I can't help thinking about those who are dealing with much worse things--at home and abroad.
All those empty spaces. All those battered hearts.
It is Wednesday in what feels like the slowest week of my life.
I am waiting for Sunday.
Sun Day. Sun Day. Sun Day.