Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trust & Choices

Weekends are tough.

More time to think, piles of laundry & dishes and all the things I need to catch up on that were laid aside during the week, plus more time to spend with Asher, while he's completely off of his schedule.

Lots of moments to miss my best friend.

I hate the feelings that deployment brings up. The sad, suffocating hole that it creates...right in the center of your chest where you know your heart must be. It physically hurts.

I've talked to Jake...about why this separation is so difficult. We have been together for nearly 13 years. When someone is such a big part of your daily existence, their absence leaves a huge void in many aspects of your life. I feel like I am at my best with him. Being his wife and loving him is one of the biggest ways that I would define myself.

Jake as a physical presence in my world is very important. Watching other families do simple things like attend Mass together, play at the park, dine out, or take walks...all the things that we enjoy doing as a family...sometimes is too much to see. The feelings of sadness and anger can be overwhelming for me. It's hard to feel like he's present and that we're a family when he is not physically here and when I don't have his support in the ways I feel I need it. When he is home, he is very active in our family life. From picking Asher up from daycare, to giving the baths, to sometimes reading the bedtime stories, and even doing laundry....he is very helpful in our daily routine. To miss him is not only to miss those "things" he does, but also all the ways that he is a very present partner in our everyday life.

Jake's first deployment I had a lot of feelings of abandonment that I had to struggle to overcome. I felt left behind. I felt like he had deserted me. I was a freshly married bride and while so many things in my life were different and everything appeared the same on the outside, nothing felt the same on the inside. At all.

Now I don't feel so much abandoned as I do....unchosen. The military is a funny thing. And by funny, I mean...hard to handle. For Jake, as he's eloquently expressed in a previous post, the military is a way to serve his country, to give back, to do something he believes & excels in, and to use his gifts and talents in a way that he truly feels called to do. I, on the other hand, have coined her "Mistress Military." Although I know Jake loves me, Mistress Military always "wins." Even if he'd prefer to stay home with me and Asher, She gets his time. Even though I know he is 100% devoted and loyal to me, She gets his attention. No matter how much I love him, no matther how much I cry or beg, Mistress Military reigns. He tries to explain that this is just what he does, not who he is, but I know that one of the major ways he identifies himself is as a soldier. Talk about confusing for both of us...

I am so proud of him. I am touched that he has served our country in a time of war and in peace time. Prior to him being deployed, I would see our red, white and blue flag waving and never really felt anything. Now I cannot see flags being marched in parades by elderly veterans without openly weeping, because now I know what it stands for. I know the sacrifices soldiers, by families, by coworkers, by friends. I see all of those things, and I have felt them. He wishes that I could see his point of view, and I wish that he could see mine.

It's really hard to reconcile why he is away from he could "choose" this, how it feels to be left behind. It's difficult to explain to him how this feels without feeling like I'm just whining. It's hard for him to explain why he does this without it ending in hurt feelings and arguments. Jake brings up faith...that we have to believe that God wants us this this place...doing what we are doing. That Jake was always supposed to be my husband...that he was always supposed to be my best friend...that he was always supposed to be Asher's dad. That this is just the circumstance for the moment, and when we make it through this, we will just continue on.

Well, being through one deployment already, we both know that life doesn't just pick up where you left off. That there is a huge adjustment to being back together...individually and collectively, and that life is never the same. You learn that normal is relative, and that war leaves no one unchanged. But I do have faith that since we have done this once, we will rise to the challenge again and face the new day together. One night at bible study, the main point of the devotional shared that clearly illustrates this idea was, "The boat will not sink...and the storm will not last forever."

I know. I know. I've got to just trust.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today...from Mississippi

Today has been an interesting day so far. Yesterday I found out that all the training that was supposed to occur for me and my team had been declined by someone (name unknown at this point) and we had not been notified. As it turns out though, there are still some decent people in this monster we call the military that are willing, able and ready to help us get all the training we well as our leadership giving us the "green light" to research training and get signed up. So that was good news.

I also had another unique opportunity this morning after I got done with a computerized test to test my brain functioning (yes, contrary to popular belief I do have a brain and it does work!). The public affairs officer for our brigade sat right behind me on the bus this morning leaving the testing and asked if I had anything going on right after we got off the bus...this is always a dangerous question when asked by a PAO! So, instead of instantly saying that I didn't have anything pressing that had / could be accomplished right then and there, I asked him why he was asking. He stated that they needed a few soldiers to do a Skype call with the people at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. After giving him a farely blank stare, I asked him to clarify...what people at the state fair? He didn't really ellaborate, just told me to follow him. I followed him to one of the buildings that all the personnel soldiers were working out of and waited. He finally turned his computer around, pulled up a chair in front of it and told me to sit down.

Very shortly after sitting down, I saw a screen pop up with someone that definitely looked like there were in a tent of some sort behind a microphone and podium. Before I could say anything, he made an announcement to the effect of, "we have with us a soldier from the 34th Infantry joining us by Skype...let's give him a round of applause!" Suddenly the camera panned back and you could see bleachers of people clapping and cheering...needless to say it was a very impressive sight!

The gentleman behind the podium asked me what my name was, where I was from and what my job was going to be...very basic and very quick, but very touching and impressive considering all the hardship that most of the state is feeling right now with all the flooding.

So, from this platform and this form of media, I would like to say thank you to all the people at the state fair that clapped and cheered! It means the world to us to have our family, friends and neighbors behind us on this mission...a mission we will complete with the Midwestern work ethic we are famous for!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Today I ate the jellybean.

So far I have always let Asher pick what color he wants to eat. Blue, green, pink, brown, red, yellow. He enjoys (at least) one jellybean every day. ONLY one from the special jar, but there are plenty left in the massive jug we purchased, so for a special treat he occassionally gets a few extra. Usually he asks for FOUR.

But today I wanted to eat the jellybean. I miss Jake, too, and I look forward to his return as well. And after I ate it, I felt a little guilty for not allowing Asher to eat the special jellybean today.

My dear friend Danielle came up with a great analogy about the jellybean jar. Instead of paraphrasing her, I will let her words speak:

"I was reading your blog again today and thought of this weird it's great that you chose jellybeans because I imagine it goes well with the days of Jake's deployment. There are some jellybeans you may like and are kind of like days that go well. And then there's all those jellybeans you think are gross but you eat anyway just to get to the good ones, like those bad days you just gotta get through to get to the good!"

Pretty sure she hit that nail on the head!

Well, just for the record, today I chose a tutti fruiti. But I'm pretty sure I've got a pretty able and willing "helper" (he constantly reminds me "I'm a good helper, Mama!") to assist me when I get to those black licorice days!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hot, hot, hot...

We finally arrived at Camp Shelby, Mississippi on the 31st of July after a very long 18 hour bus trip. As we moved further south, you could feel the temperature rise and everything get a little stickier.

Now, as all of you know, growing up in Iowa, I am no stranger to humidity and hot summers. I kept thinking to myself, "this isn't too bad, summers on the Mississippi River are pretty hot and humid, so this can't be any worse, right?" I was seriously wrong and greatly underestimated how close Camp Shelby is to the Gulf Coast. As it sits, Camp Shelby is approximately 50 miles from the Gulf, 110 miles from New Orleans, and about 60 miles from Gulfport, Mississippi. Summers down here are crazy!

This last week we have had heat indexes of no less than 110 with nothing less than 85% humidity. Several times this last week while running, I have thought that I was going to sprout gills due to the amount of moisture in the air!!

Training so far has not been too taxing, outside of doing physical training twice a day for the last two days. It does not look like it is going to slow down any time soon, due to one of the other guys in my section wanting to get in shape as badly as me! Right now I have been learning how to operate and perform operator maintaince on four new (to me) vehicles that we may be fielded when we get into theater. These trucks are pretty cool and I can't wait to start the driving tomorrow, which continues till the 11th. After that I get to start to focus on training specifically for my job...that is the time period that I am looking forward to the most.

All things considered, things are not too bad down here. i have food provided when I need it, a dry place to sleep (although with no privacy it gets old), a place to store all my stuff and a mattress to sleep on...after some of the places I've been and where I'm going back to, this isn't too terrible bad...but nothing compares to being at home with the two people I love more than anything in this world...


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Even Miss Sadie

Meet Sadie.
Even Sadie is affected by Jake's absence.
The last two nights we've had HUGE thunderstorms. Asher slept through them. The enormous rolls of thunder and blindingly bright lightning did nothing to help me sleep. Or Sadie.
Sadie, who since Jake has been gone, will no longer come upstairs anymore, quietly slinks into her dog kennel on the main floor when I retire to the upper depths of the house to sleep. She no longer will rest easily on the floor at the foot of our bed on her pillow, but perches herself where she can see and be "on alert" should anything disturb our home as Asher and I sleep.
However, our beautiful GSD is seriously frightened of storms. And firecrackers. So, for two nights in a row, she HAS come upstairs...and nuzzled me in fear. At one point I bumped butts with her...she was laying behind me with her head on dear Jake's pillow!
Poor Sadie!
But like Jake, she is ever loyal...ever watchful to protect and to serve when needed most.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tough Stuff

Asher turned two and a half today. I keep six months when he is turning three we'll be halfway done with this "journey."

Yesterday our friends who were visiting the Des Moines area drove Jake's truck home. It is now parked on the driveway. With all of Jake's coming and going in the last two months, it was a very visible sign to both Asher and myself that when the truck was around, so was daddy, and when the truck was gone, daddy was, too.

Trying to explain to a two and a half year old why daddy's truck is in the driveway but that daddy isn't here is really, really difficult.

Stupid terrorists.