The first weekend with Neal deployed has come and gone without a come-apart or an ugly face cry...mostly because it's not polite to cry uncontrollably when you have company. And Mama Virgo really knows how to keep me distracted...tennis, long walks around base, pedicures, dinner out. But weekends are just another day for me. Because I am self-employed and leaving the house is more of a break in the routine than the actual routine, I don't dread or fear the 2 long days of quiet. I work all of the time...Friday nights, Sunday mornings, Saturday afternoons...if I don't have another appointment on the calendar, I'm working. Many spouses don't have that luxury. When they punch out at 5 PM on Friday, they must then find some way to fill the next 2 1/2 days. Although, having children is an excellent way to fill that time.
Working for myself means that I fall into those moments of melancholy and missing him at the most random of times. There are only 2 things that pull me through those times effectively: a phone call from Neal or a keepsake close at hand. During the first deployment, keepsakes and momentos arrived almost everyday. I was being "wooed", as my grandmother would say. Flower deliveries, a Breakfast in the Country gift basket, Nikes with my name embroidered on the side, and the cards...oh the cards. And we had not even met yet! The second deployment was busier for him. Not as much downtime between convoys and less time to shop and ship. But I had a locket necklace with his picture that he had put around my neck the day he left. And there it stayed until I picked him up from Camp Atterbury 13 months later. Lying in that king size bed where the other half stayed perfectly made most of the time, I would rub on that locket and make wishes like a child at a fountain.
For this deployment, I asked for a bracelet...a very thin bangle with his deployment date on it. I have one similar that simply says "I luv u" that he had given me several years ago, so I knew he would know where to go to get another. Unfortunately, the engraving was not available on that bangle and I had to settle for a charm bracelet with a heart charm. It finally arrived on Friday morning and Mama Virgo was able to stand in for Neal as the one who put it on my wrist for its 13 month stay.
388 wake-ups to go!