Monday, February 28, 2011

No mother ever envisions it for their own child. Walking through the giant sliding doors, down the hall, last door on the right. There's an adult-size door, and a child-size door. Fish tanks stretch from floor to ceiling, and there are stars on the linoleum. The walls are painted bright colors, and the desk is low, so the children can feel involved. Despite attempting to provide an inviting environment, the place is still scary as hell. On the wall: Scott and White Pediatric Hematology and Oncology.

Twice I've walked through those doors. And twice I've felt like throwing up. Twice, we've there in the waiting room while Elizabeth fawns over the fishies. Twice, we've waiting for the doctor to come in and see her bruising. Twice, we've had him order blood tests. Twice, we've been sent away, knowing no more than when we'd walked through the doors.

I feel like I'm living in one of those movies, where the parents are pushing against all odds to figure out what's wrong with their child. Where no one is listening to the parents. They stand by their child's side, arguing and standing their ground. But, they always find out answers. The movies make it look easy. The parents appear heroic. I feel broken. They seem indefatigable. I am exhausted. They have their helpmate their. I stand alone. Lost. Losing.

Tonight, I am at a dead end. Where do I go from here? How far am I willing to take this fight? To whom do I present Elizabeth's situation next? I don't know.

I do know that something is clearly wrong with my daughter. I do know that my husband is halfway across the globe, so far removed from all of this. I do believe in the power of prayer and the support of family and friends. And, I absolutely know that this mother will stop at nothing to find out what is wrong with my child. No distance is too far, no fear too great, no medical personnel too elite for me to overcome that obstacle and achieve a correct diagnosis.

I ask for your prayers, dear readers. Those of you who do read. I know not how many there are. But, if you could leave a comment letting me know you are praying so that I might take great peace from that, I'd be eternally grateful. I desperately need them right now. Elizabeth needs them right now. Thank you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Everytime I pulled out the camera the day I left, you stopped crying or looking sad, and would smile."

Yes, I did. The day that I felt like my heart was being ripped from chest, the day that I saw my daughter's favorite person board a bus, the that day I saw my best friend pull away--I smiled only in the pictures. There were moments of intense heartache, that panic overtook me, that I was gripping wildly at my last shred of self-control to not break into desperate tears. I watched you holding your daughter, with that calm, sad look in your eyes, I watched as you looked intently at me while holding her hand, I noticed how extra hard you held me as we hugged the last time.

You deserve better. I swallowed desperately, to hide the tears, the sadness. I smiled for you. And only for you. I knew you'd look at those pictures every day for the next twelve months, garnering strength, peace, fond memories. And what strength, what peace, what fond memories would you have received, if those photos showed a crying, down-trodden wife?

No. I stand tall for you. I walk forward for you. I sleep in a bed alone at night, not for myself, but for you. Because you deserve better. You deserve a wife who can hide tears behind a smile, shadow sadness behind laughter. You deserve a family who stands behind you 110%. You, sir, deserve a family that is heartbroken by your departure, but is strong enough to stand in your absence.

I will move forward for you. I hide my tears, shadow my sadness. I smile and laugh. I do all this for you. Because, while you fight the war, I hold down the homefront. While you are separated from loved ones, I instill joy in them. While you sleep on a cot in sand and stand in defense of our freedom, I sleep in an empty bed, and stand in defense of our family. I do not do this for me. I do not do this for pity or credit. I do this for you. Though separated by thousands of miles, we still fight together through prayer and isolation. We fight battles that are mirrored in their motives. I don't fight for myself. I fight for you. I stand for you. I smile and laugh for you. My Soldier.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I did it. I hadn't really ventured beyond my door, except twice to my parents' house, since Sunday. Maybe I'm the only one, but going somewhere without someone with whom you go almost everywhere can be daunting. Especially when you're still having major emotional ups and downs. I kept almost changing my mind. But, I promised my husband I would get involved and stay busy. So, I came home this morning after having crashed at my parents, threw together some Valentine's, and off we went to the children's Valentine's Party at Church. It was so nice to get out and be somewhere busy. Elizabeth was somewhat clingy, but really enjoyed watching the children all run around.

I've realized that victory sometimes lies in the small things, like realizing your crying less and less as each day goes by (so far, today's count is zero--that's unprecedented!). It lies in finishing the laundry all by yourself, even though you're used to help. It's getting through making a healthy meal for yourself and daughter and eating the entire plate, especially without getting a stomach ache. Victory really is making it through another day.

So, I feel good this evening, for the most part. I am still adjusting, still adapting. Still coming up with plans to make the time fly faster, and methods to stay more connected with the husband. I keep telling myself that if the deployment date came and went, so will the homecoming day.

I would like to take a moment to thank friends and family for their prayers. Please, please keep them up. I know they are being answered. I might post a prayer that those of you who'd want, could say it for a particular intention of mine. But, regardless, God bless you all.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

And Then He was Gone

The alarm pierced the morning, and my stomach burned with hot rocks. That had been happening every morning for the last few weeks, but today it was especially bad. I tried to ignore it, pretend it wasn't going off . I even shut it off quickly and hoped he hadn't heard it. If he didn't hear it, we wouldn't have to get up, and if we didn't have to get up, the rest of the day didn't have to happen. But, he was already up. He crawled back into bed next to me, and snuggled up close. I don't want you to go, I said.

But, he had to, and he did. It was a long morning that went by quickly. I don't want to relate it, right now, because my mind is in a good place. I like those waves to last as long as possible. I will say that he left a gargantuan hole. His departure broke my heart immensely and has destroyed our routine. Now, in some ways, we are re-shaping our days and re-centering our lives.

Sometimes, I am okay, and other moments I am really sad and angry. During those negative waves, the emotion is so intense and so hard to overcome. I quickly realized not to fight it. I just let myself cry. Once the crying is done, I usually feel better and enter the next wave of being okay. My prayer is that the okay-waves start lasting longer and come more frequently than the intense negative waves.

This morning, I started having a bad negative-wave. I just went into overdrive. I took a shower, got dressed, did my hair. I have to get dressed and do my hair, because doing this makes me feel better. I came out, and lit a fire. Yes, I started a fire all by myself. Not that I've never done this before, but doing things for myself makes me feel like I am fulfilling my mission. I am fulfilling my promise to hold down the homefront. I am staying confident and adding warmth to our house. I see the irony. The unit spouses' motto for this deployment is, "Keep the home fires burning." I intend to.

I see myself like this:

Standing in the middle of a giant football field, with the stands full. It's dark, but the stadium lights are lighting up the field. All of our friends and family are watching as I play in my first game. Only thing is, this game is the most important of the season and I know the plays and victory rely on solely on me. I am standing there, facing our family and friends, waving my arms up and down, asking for the cheering and rooting to get louder. For me, the cheering and rooting signifies the prayers and affirmation. The game is long and arduous and I am playing against a team of eclectic players. Terrorists, military orders, someone named separation, even my own self-doubt. Each quarter finds me closer to victory, though each lasts so long. Three months. The game, right now, is only seconds in. But, I am still leading on the scoreboard. And I guarantee that when the last second ticks off the board, when the game is over, and the stands are still hopefully full of our cheering friends and family, my team will have won. At the end of that game, I will still be standing, though covered in the blood, sweat, and tears. And, just as this battle ends, that one lone and empty seat in the stands will be occupied. Because for me, victory is only attained when my husband comes home.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Twas the Night Before....

So, here we are. The Night Before. His bags are packed, and one's already in the car. The house is cleaned and organized. The laundry's all done, and should be for the next six weeks, since I've been doing laundry all week. His nightstand is cleared off, and all of his clothes are neatly put away. Even the shoes he wears everyday. They're in the closet. Away.

It's starting to feel weird around here.

Recently, someone gave me great advice. Don't try to make this a great week. It wasn't. It was extremely special in its own way; but great, it was not. Errands took up most of our time, misunderstandings ate into a few hours, and I learned to force myself to be flexible yet again. I had his favorite dinner planned for tonight. I wanted to cook for him on his last night. But, as we left Mass, he asked for Cracker Barrel. So, dinnertime found me running in and grabbing our food, after having sat in the parking lot so he could pick up magazines for the plane. I was not resentful. I started to panic at one point, though, because I could feel the second hand ticking. I forced myself to calm down. At that moment, he came sprinting out of the store. I think we share a second hand.

I have been wallowing in these last few and precious moments. Watching while he plays with his daughter, who won't understand where Daddy has gone. Watching while he darts through the house cleaning to avoid his sadness. Watching him store items he won't be needing for twelve months. Watching him pack up his bags while Elizabeth tries to climb on his lap. Watching him laugh, smile, frown, and cry.

Watching him. Here. Now. Because he's going to leave a huge hole.

But, I do this for him. He's worth it. He's such a great and amazing and courageous man. I couldn't do what he's about to do. I would run. I would be far too scared. I hope people can see how phenomenal this man, this Soldier is. And I have the honor of being his wife. So, he's worth it. And, in a strange way, I take this as a major compliment. Apparently, he sees me as strong, brave, and worth it, too.