Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I knew it had happened. That's exactly when it would happen.

The husband usually calls around a certain time in the afternoon. Time changes and long work hours contribute to this. So, anywhere I go, my cell phone goes. It's leashed to me. Always. Ask me if it follows me into the bathroom--yes, it does.

Unless you've lived this lifestyle, you cannot understand how precious, how vital that phone call is. I spent every moment of my life previously knowing that, if he wasn't here, I could still get ahold of him. Pick up the phone. Dial his number. Send a text. He'd call back. He was always accessible. He was physically here in the mornings, evenings, nights, weekends. His body was in this house.

And now, I am left living for that phone call.

We military wives are a proud and independent people. We have to be. No one else is going to take out the trash, no one else is going to change the dirty diaper, feed the children, clean the house, pay the bills. Before, someone else would have. But, now we are left doing it ourselves. We become incredibly self-sufficient to the point that when the husband does come home, many wives have a difficult time adjusting. Pride. Independence. Survival. We can do it all.

One thing can knock us to our knees.


I left the phone in the car during the FRG meeting. As Murphy's Law would have it, he called early--while the phone was not next to me. Realizing I'd left my phone in the car, I ran mid-meeting out the door and into the yard. I retrieved my phone and saw it. One Missed Call. Three times.

I came inside ranting and raving, and the women surrounded me. Stories of times when they missed calls, comforting words, and well-wishes for the call tomorrow. They get it. They get me. They get the situation. And that is such a comfort, especially when you miss that call.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I heard the nasty thing before I saw it. And, for the record, volume is an excellent indicator on size.

We were enjoyed an idyllic lunch. Elizabeth was munching on a cookie in the high chair, while I prepared my victuals. The backdoor was open, and the spring sun was streaming through the windows and door. Apparently, he had streamed through the door, too. I am surprised he even fit through the door. Regardless, as I warmed my chicken and laid my sodabread on my plate, I heard it.


I froze. Every muscle in my admittedly starving body stiffened. I slowly turned around, searching for the source of the noise. Quickly, I located it. The wasp topped the ruler at nearly 2 inches, and was a bright red.

I freaked. And then I screamed.

I walked over, despite my inclination to run in my room and shut the door, and closed the blinds. I located a broom and proceeded to beat the window senseless. The buzzing ceased, and I did my victory dance.

Suddenly, he rose from the dead...or possibly from behind the blinds. Regardless, he floated into the air and began moving towards me. My life flashed before my eyes. After running Elizabeth to her crib, I ran into my bathroom and grabbed my aerosol hair spray. I reentered the room, stealthily approached my enemy, and fired. Perpetually. Practically until the can was empty. When he fell the floor, I attacked him repeatedly with my broom. I might have been screaming a little.

His dead carcass was swept out of the back door. Victory was officially mine.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Skype is a huge blessing. I acknowledge that, especially in light of the next statement: Skype can be painful.

I hear stories from veterans' brides who tell me all they had was letter writing, and my heart aches for them. Letters, such a distant form of communication, and with no guarantee that they would reach their Soldier. They tell me I'm lucky. I understand, and feel blessed. When civilian wives tell me I'm blessed to have Skype, I have to quell the urge to tell them that they are in turn lucky to have their spouse in the same bed every night. But, I know they are right. Sometimes, though, it can be such a painful reminder.

Today, for a reason I still haven't realized, was hard. I was really missing my husband. I teared up a few times and felt that ache in my heart that I'd been able to ignore the last few weeks. While Skyping this afternoon, we had to discuss a few important topics, and the conversation was anything but fun. Not that we argued, but the tone was mostly serious, and this only reminded me further that he was not here today.

His face is there, on my lap. But once in awhile, a voice tells me that it's not his real face. It's only an image. Most of the time, seeing his face on the computer, hearing his tone change with his facial expressions, listening to him describe his day alleviates some of the pain of his absence. The connection we have through this medium is a blessing.

"I wish I could reach through Skype and touch you." Hearing him say this made me a little sad. Soon, I say. Soon is so relative.

Still, I'm grateful it allows him to interact with his daughter, who says only Dadda or Daddy, never Mommy. It provides a way for he and I to stay united in so many ways. It lets him call his extended family and friends to stay in touch with them. I can see his face, even if I can't touch it. And that is a wonderful thing.

When given blessings, we are reminded they are never perfect. But, these blessings are stepping stones to aid us in getting further in our vocation or on our path. While Skype certainly does not make him appear in our living room, I still get excited when I see his face pop onto the screen. Because I can see him. And seeing him--that's the highlight to my day.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

One Month

So, the Stravitsch Homefront survived the first month of deployment.

I remember for so long dreading this lifestyle. I would hear stories from women about FRG events and their camaraderie. Stories about "everything seeming like it was going wrong." The delays in phone conversations from him and living leashed to various electronic devices. The stories about phone lines getting cut mid-conversation and about desperately needing to talk to the spouse, but knowing it could be awhile. I did not know if I could handle it. I questioned whether I could live a year with out my spouse. Whether I had the emotional and physical stamina to live under that kind of pressure.

While envisioning this lifestyle, I never factored in a sick daughter, shuttling her to various hospital visits. I never foresaw standing there, holding her down by myself while doctors and nurses poked her with needles, some of them laughing. I couldn't have imagined watching her bruise everywhere, undergo multiple tests, and get the brush-off by doctors and hospitals.

You think people will take it easy on you because he's gone. That doors will open, just because you committed yourself to this lifestyle. That other people will suddenly comprehend all you are going through and help you when you need it most. You think, somehow, the world will comprehend the massive load you are carrying in your heart, trying desperately not to breakdown. You are wrong. I was wrong.

I survived a month. Very few people know what I've carried through this last month as I trudge through this time without my help-mate. But they who know, celebrate with me at this hard won, though small, victory. Prayers have carried us, comfort has lifted us, and help has sustained us. We will continue to attain victory. Despite great struggle, huge crosses, and intense stress, my family will continue to move through the months. Through the weeks. Through the days. With the prayers, the comfort, and the help, we will conquer in the end. We celebrate not alone, but with those who have helped us through.