I'm not even sure how to explain this to you but I figured you might understand, so I'm going to try. I've got about a month left until I check in... until I can start counting DOWN the days to coming home instead of counting UP the days until I leave. Logistically I'm almost completely ready to go save a few little things. Mentally I'm as prepared as I think I'm going to be to do this. Emotionally... not quite there yet. I think I'm fine... and then a song will come on the radio and I'll start crying. Someone will ask me a question and I'll ponder it a bit too long because I've become lost in thought. The kids will suddenly look at me and say something profoundly sad... that's the worst of them all.
The other night I went into Shanne's room to say goodnight to him... he sat up in bed, grabbed my face with both of his hands and said, "Mommy, please don't leave." What do you say to that? I didn't have words for that one, only a long hug as tears rolled silently down my face.
But the most heart wrenching moment was shortly after I returned home from Alabama. Addy must have heard me talking about some of the stories I heard from the nurses and medics who have already been down range... the inherent dangers associated with flying MEDEVAC missions in country. I was in the kitchen when Addy came up to me with huge tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong and her response nearly knocked the wind out of me..."Mommy, I don't want you to die." Then she started crying. I held it together as I held her... but once she was settled down I went into my bathroom, sat on the floor, and sobbed.
There is no easy button for this part, is there? No words to pacify the pain... no hug that will ever be tight enough to last 9 months... nothing to make up for the moments I'm going to miss. The most difficult part is how I feel. I'm ready to go... excited to go... looking forward to the challenge. But the flip side of that coin is that I have to leave you all. Leave my babies. It's such a strange place to be.
After all my years on the home front side of deployment I can now say with certainty that it's harder to be the one leaving (especially as a mom). As the planner I not only feel responsible for making sure everything is ready to go at home... but I have to deal with the emotional fallout of leaving. I will never diminish the challenges we, as military wives, face when our spouse leaves for a deployment. But as the one at home you still have your version of normal everyday. You see your children, tuck them into bed at night, watch them grow and change. The one leaving doesn't get any of that. They get a strange place, a strange land, with people who will ultimately become a surrogate family (for that I am eternally grateful).
So here we sit... one month to go... so much to look forward to between now and then. Embrace it all, right? Enjoy the time... but be ready for the pain. Here goes nothing.