Manic Witch

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

Snarky got me to thinking about this lately and I realized that I am able to share now. (Ok, actually a while ago, but never bothered). *btw-check out her blog...she is the Mistress of Snark*

When I met Hubs, he had served 8 years active duty in the army-including time in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. Hoo-ah! By the time we met, he was already discharged from active duty and was now serving in the National Guard-infantry. I never had to be an "army wife." He was gone one weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer. Big whoop. I got to do all my girly things on the weekends he was gone-dye my hair, the BIG leg shave, tweeze the unibrow...all things I didn't want him to see to blow the whole feminine mystique thing I had going on. I even rolled with the punches when we had to change our wedding date because of the army. We were originally set for May 20th, one year to the day from when we met. *awwww* But the army had other ideas. The units annual training was moved from July to May of that year. And since we didn't have firm-contract signed-non refundable deposit details in place yet, he couldn't get out of it and serve with another unit. So, we moved our wedding date up by 7 weeks. (Yeah, that was fun. Now we had to plan a wedding in 3 months instead of 4. *We OWN the word procrastination*). Ok, we deal. Got married, honeymooned and started our happy life together. I still didn't have to really deal with being an *army wife.* In May, I take Hubs to the unit for his 2 week training. The very night he reports we get a call from his family. His dad had a heart attack and was in really bad shape. Hubs gets clearance from his commander and I had to pick him up and we drive to Denver to be with his family. The irony here is that its the day before what should have been our wedding day. So I guess it kind of worked out. Otherwise Dad would have had his heart attack the day before our wedding. BTW-dad did recover and is doing very well thank you very much.
Fast forward a year and months to September 11, 2001. I was at work and went through all the horror everyone else did in our nation. Until the Pentagon got hit. Thats when I lost my shit. Pentagon=military headquarters=close to White House=absolute-without a doubt now-military involvement. I was found in an empty exam room huddled in a corner shaking and sobbing hysterically. One of the other nurses found me and asked what happened, besides the obvious. I told her that my husband was in the national guard and I knew he was going to get called up. I had been working there 5 months and apparently they still didn't realize that Hubs was in the military. Seeing on tv that the Illinois National Guard was placed on high alert went me completely over the edge. I collapsed in the kitchen at work. Our charge nurse kept trying to tell me that all it means is high alert, Hubs hadn't called me yet, so he may not go. There was no convincing me otherwise though. I *knew* that he was going to go. At home that night, as we were watching the news, Hubs kept telling me that he hadn't heard anything concrete and to not worry over what hasn't happened yet. Right. Why not tell me not to blink instead? That would have been easier.
I didn't sleep well for weeks after that. Everytime I closed my eyes, in my imagination I would *hear* the phone ring to tell us that he needs to pack up and move out. Un/fortunately, about a month after the attacks, Hubs was in a horrible car accident (hit a concrete wall at 60 mph). He walked away with a few bruises and a scratch or two. It woke me up and made me realize that I am worrying about something that may or may not happen and I could have lost him 10 miles from home. So I stopped worrying. That was where I went wrong.
Just before thanksgiving, I was in the car with my girls listening to of all things "Proud to be an American" by Lee Greenwood. (Yeah, I got the irony too). We get into the apartment, have dinner and the phone rings. Its Lt. SoandSo looking for Hubs. I give him Hubs work number and after I hang up, I start to cry. Yep, the call I had been dreading finally came. Hubs calls a few minutes later to tell me and I let him know that since Lt called the apartment first, I kind of guessed it. He didn't have exact orders yet, so we didn't know where he was going yet.
I never knew the human body could produce that many tears and over that long a time period. The holidays were horrible. We did finally learn that he was being sent to Europe-in fact he was going back to where he was stationed the first 5 years of his active duty assignment. *Whew* He was going to be reasonably safe. Did I stop worrying? Not on your life. I knew when he was there, he was sent to Kuwait, so it was like a staging area at the point. So in my warped mind, I felt that he was only going to Europe until they could get them set up for Afghanastan. During this time, while he was gearing up to go and get his men transitioned from national guard to active duty, I was learning about being a "military dependent." I finally had to get my ID, set up on DEERS and get his Power of Attorney in place. What?! I have control over his estate (such at it was-a beat up old Toyota) in case anything happens? Oh yeah, we were about 45 minutes away from his armory and about the same distance from the Naval Training Base (but "we" were Army, not navy). So we had to keep travelling to get all this shit in place for me.
One of the things I worried about was being able to keep the apartment. Ok, I hated it and we had planned on moving out at the end of the lease, but still. I didn't want to have to move in with my parents while I was gone. Among other things, it would have been an hour and a half commute for work. Not worth it for what I was making. A friend from work TOLD me (not asked) that I was moving in with her and her family. Actually, she left the message on our machine and in the backgroud I could hear her husband saying "tell her to pack her shit and get here already." I hadn't even met her husband yet and he was saying this. Feel free to cry over the sweetness of this. I know I did.
I didn't want to begin packing until after Hubs left. I wanted to spend every moment we had together, just being together and not working. Ok, that was a mistake. When we finally unpacked at our new house, it looked like I was drunk when I did the packing. Socks (clean) in a box with spoons and a curling iron. ???
The day after he left and the final shock wore off, I went to tackle the bunk bed in the kids room. Its one of those tublar things complete with stripped bolts. The whole fucking thing ended up collapsing on my head. All I could do (after untangling myself from tubes, bolts and tools) was fling the wrench across the room and cuss everyone out. The army, Hubs, myself...oh yeah, and I guess Bin Laden had something to do with this too.
It didn't help that I was so far from any unit-and none were Army bases, just armories. And the family support unit was non-existant. Americans were in an outcry of "we have to go kick some Afghan ass" Yeah, I agree, but my Hubs is the one who is the one who will have to do it. I literally had no one who understood what I was going through...the lonliness, pride, heartache, pride, pride. My dad never went overseas, and Grandma had alzheimers so she really couldnt share my fears and feelings with me.
One of the nurses, who worked very part time and I didn't know well at all told me she thought she saw a pic of Hubs in the newspaper. (I didn't think she even knew what Hubs looked like). This was a few days after the fact and I could not find a copy anywhere. I called the paper and spoke to a wonderful woman who said that it wasn't his name on the pic, but it could still be him as there were other guys there, not all named. She said she is "supposed" to charge for copies, but considering my situation, she could **ssshhhhh**send me a copy. She sent about a dozen! And it was indeed Hubs. Pretty good picture too. I must have worn out a couple just staring at them and touching his face. So thank you, Lois Lane. You and your sense of patriotism touched my heart.
So...moved in with Peggy, adjusted to living with another family, spent a lot of time with friends and family, go out dancing, learn to live as an army wife. Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside. We were extremely lucky. Hubs was at a clean, fairly modern base. We got to chat online almost every other day and spoke on the phone frequently. (You should have seen our credit card bill). I even got to go see him. It still didn't do much to ease my mind. He was still too close to the middle east that they could still easily send him there. He was already there once. He knew the customs and environment. He would have been perfect to send.
During this time I was having increasingly worse abdominal pain. Many, many tests determine a huge, nasty cyst on my remaining ovary and it needs to come out. Since they were predicting a 6 week recovery time, and Hubs wasn't in a war zone, they were going to release him to come home. Now the real fun begins. I have to get lab and xray/ultrasound results over to his commander. We had surgery date in place, but the army starts jacking us around. Hes going/not going/going/not going/not going/ok hes going. After lots of red-tape and much bullshit, he finally comes home...8 hours before surgery. But yay! He's home!

The point to this whole long, drawn out story is... Snarky, I know what you are going through, and yet, I cant even imagine what you are going through. I can relate to all you had to do on this end, but I never had to deal with my husband being gone for 18 months and in a war zone. The snark from your blog about the military? (how to prepare for duty in the desert? LOVED IT!), yeah, I "get" it all. I can so relate to all the jokes and snarks. Been there, done that. So I am sending you mucho {{{{hugs}}}} and all the love and support I can for you, Captain UberHusband and all the military wives out there. Loves ya, Ladies. *mwah*

Manic Witch wove her spell:: 5/28/2005 09:59:00 AM ::