(to catch yourself up to now, please stop here first.)
To clarify for a moment, I was 22 years old, 5 months pregnant, and he's going to IRAQ???? We aren't in Iraq, we're in Afghanistan. What the heck is going on!??!!?!
I went straight to bed. I didn't even get undressed, I just flopped there and passed out. I was so overwhelmed in every way possible that I couldn't even think. Deployment. A war. Invading forces. If I'd had the energy I would have been wide awake, but I just couldn't make it.
The next morning I woke up and stretched. He'd already gone to start the process of getting signed into post and I was just taking my time. Slowly the tail end of the day before came back to memory and I didn't even want to get out of bed. I got up anyway, walked to the commissary (military grocery store) and picked up some food to eat for a few meals. At lunch he came home with a box of "cooking gear" we could use to cook and eat until ours arrived on the big boat.
I wanted to ask a million questions but he asked one first. "So, do you want to stay?"
I only knew one thing. If my husband was going to war in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month, I was going to spend EVERY second with him I could find. "I'll stay."
The rest of the day was meetings in the housing office and scheduling further appointments. We were told housing was tight but it was unlikely that we would be able to get something we really liked/wanted and that being picky was not really an option.
10 days later we moved into our new apartment 24 miles from base but still on old military housing from a base that was shut down.
1 day after that my husband walked in the door carrying a HUGE duffel bag. As he slowly took the gear out of it to take the tags off and prepare everything I sat in silence. If I could give him strength I would be there. I would not cry. I would just sit there. I took laundry downstairs, took piles of tags off gear. I found the dog tags with a notch. You never want to see those with someone you love's name on them. That means they're expecting large numbers of casualties. That means there's a good chance they aren't coming home.
By the grace of God alone I held it together. There's no other earthly way I could have done it.
Until he was trying to put on his flak vest (bulletproof vest) and couldn't get it laced up tight enough on his own and I had to help. My hands were shaking as I bent down and began pulling on the strings making jokes about how my former time as a Renaissance reenactor was finally coming in handy. As I stood back up he put his hands on my shoulders and said, "I love you."
I smiled back and said, "You better."
The next day he was off for the weekend and they were expected to leave early the next week. It would likely be our last time together for many months. We walked off the installation and into town and as we passed the school he asked me to translate the graffiti.
I refused. He didn't need to know the horrid things they were saying about him right there on the sidewalk, written in chalk by the children of the neighborhood. Some things were better left unsaid. I told him I couldn't translate it because I didn't know the words.
He knew I was lying.