The goal is to get through writing this post without crying. Not sure it will happen, but I will give it a go. At some point in the past few weeks (no dates will be mentioned) my husband left for Afghanistan. Now I have known this deployment was coming for a year. However, the actual reality of watching them walk onto those buses was not something I think anyone can prepare for.
We woke up around 4:30, but I pretty much tossed and turned all night. I fell asleep wrapped around his arm, trying to soak in every second of time we still had together. We had two of his buddies staying with us, so the morning was pretty relaxed. We loaded the car and had breakfast together. I had a friend coming with me to take some pictures and be my emotional support. This may have been the best idea I have ever had.
Lane saying goodbye to Asha triggered my first sobbing mess of the day. I can only imagine how much worse that feeling would have been if we had children. We got in the car and headed over to Squadron. This was the most disorganized part of the day. There was some confusion as to where and when people were dropping off bags and picking up guns. We got it sorted and headed over to the second meeting spot around 07:00. This began the waiting.
So I had never planned on staying around for this part. I thought it would be too hard and I would just want to go home. But once we got there, I couldn't leave. I wanted every single second just to look at his face. We spent the next hour and a half talking to friends and being together. The USO and FRG's had done an incredible job with toys for the kids and decorations. There were snacks and USO volunteers coming around to check on everyone. I can't say enough how wonderful the USO, Chaplains, and other staff were that morning.
They gave us a ten minute warning till the final manifest. This was the worst part. I have never had ten minutes go by so fast in my life. I just hugged him and told him over and over how much I loved him. I was proud of him and would be here waiting when he got back. (ok, officially crying while typing now). I really wanted to not cry, but that wasn't even a possibility at this point. I never totally lost it, but there were tears. Finally he had to go. He walked into the marked off area and waited for his name to be called. I just stared at him. I tried to memorize exactly how he looked and hold that for the next nine months.
I heard his name and watched as he got in line to get on the buses. This part wasn't as difficult for me. After he got on the bus, I was much better. I think it helped that I couldn't see him through the window. Other spouses have described the buses pulling away as the worst part. For me, the worst part was the ten minute warning. It wasn't even the last second before he pulled away. It was knowing that I only had a few precious moments left with him.
The buses pulled out and we waved goodbye. S and I grabbed our stuff and left. I decided I wanted coffee, so we stopped at DD's on the way home. It felt like such a perfectly normal thing to do, even though the circumstances were far from normal. I did pretty well for the rest of the day. I watched a ton of 30 Rock and tried to get some house stuff done.
This is a pretty long post, but I hope it was helpful to anyone facing a deployment. I am (at the time I am writing this, not when this blog gets posted) 36 hours post him leaving, and I feel pretty good. I was sad today, but I was able to make a short to-do list and get it all done. I am trying to temper being completely selfish for the next few weeks with trying to take care of the other spouses around me.