The alarm went off at 3:20am. The alarm was pointless, though, because I was awake and crying most of the 4 hours I tried to sleep while my husband held me in his arms. We both laid there having a silent conversation through our sniffles and sobs, knowing that getting out of bed meant it was time to say goodbye.
I watched as he loaded all his gear into the back of our van, and then I cried some more as I watched him gently carry our kids to the van and buckle them into their carseats. We drove the 2 hours to a tiny gas station off the freeway where he was meeting his friend to make the drive back to Mississippi.
5:42. We pulled into the gas station with 18 minutes to spare before he had to leave. Rain was pounding the windows of the van just as my heart was pounding in my chest. I kept glancing in the back at our kids. The older two were awake but somber. The baby was sound asleep. As the headlights of his friends' vehicle crested the hill, a small part of me felt glad that it was finally here. Not glad to say goodbye, but just glad that we can finally start counting down for the end of this deployment. Saying goodbye is like ripping off a band-aid. You know it needs to be done, but you know it's going to hurt. So you pull it back just a little at a time. When it's finally all the way off, you feel relieved.
He loaded his gear into his friend's vehicle, and the moment I was dreading was here--watching him tell our children goodbye. Our 3 year old began crying as he opened the door and climbed in to hug her. Seeing her tiny arms wrapped around his neck as she cried is one of those mental pictures I'll never forget. I don't know what he was saying to her, because he was whispering through his cries. Then he hugged our 5 year old son, promising him to go hunting and fishing when he gets home. Our son had 2 solitary tears--one on each cheek. I honestly think he was just too sad to even cry. He hugged the sleeping baby, knowing that when he comes back home she'll no longer be a baby. She'll be a running, talking 2 year old girl.
As I closed the van door, he grabbed me and held me tight. Both of us crying. How do you say the millions of things you want to say when you only have a few minutes left? All I could mutter was, "I love you. Please come home to us." We embraced as the rain drops turned into snow, and I remember thinking how appropriate. Our first kiss together was in the rain in a parking lot at college.
And with that, it was over. I got into the driver's seat, readjusted the mirrors and tried to compose myself. I drove away, headed towards home. He drove away, headed towards a war.
There are no words that can really accurately describe what it's like to watch the father of your children tell them goodbye. In some ways, I'm grateful that our children are still too young to fully comprehend where their daddy is going. They understand that he's in the Army, and my son understands that he's there to fight the bad guys, but I am sure the concept that daddy might not come home is not something they ever even think about it. For that, I am thankful. I, however, live with that fear every single day. It's not something I really ever talk about, but it's always there in the back of my mind.
The emotions of yesterday are still pretty raw. I'm fortunate in that I am surrounded by my family for the next few days. My parents welcome me and my kids (and 2 dogs and 2 guinea pigs) into their home. I'm so thankful they're here for me, helping us work through this transition to having daddy away again. It helps to be wrapped up in the love of those who care most deeply for us.
I am trying so hard to not let the way I'm feeling right now be an excuse to just give up on getting healthy. When you're in the depths of sadness, sometimes it's hard to see how you could ever come out of it again and move on towards success. But then I think of how proud my husband has been of my progress so far. He said to me more than once how amazing I'm looking and how happy he is that I'm getting healthy.
Right now 10 months seems like an eternity to be without him, but I know giving up on me is NOT an option. Giving up on me would also be giving up on my husband and my kids. If I don't get healthy, I know I'm giving up years with them later in life. That is not something I'm willing to sacrifice.
In the past, I have let life get in the way. I gained over 60 pounds in 5 years. I will not that let happen again. So, I'm giving myself a few days to gather myself. I'm focusing on eating healthy and spending time with my children. Next week I will get back into my exercise routine, and I'll keep pushing forward with my goal in front of me.
I realize that I have to do this for myself first. I cannot do this for anyone but me or the results won't stick. However, I will say that picturing my husband's reaction on the day he comes home is a powerful motivator. I do not want to disappoint him. So while I know there will be tough days when I just want to give up, I won't. I'm strong. I can do this. This morning the scale said 238.6, which means I haven't lost anything in over 2 weeks. But it also means I haven't gained. I have 10 months to get to my goal weight of 160. With hard work and dedication, I know I can do this. My only other choice is failure, and that's not a choice I'm willing to make.