Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Keeping Him Close

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.

When Mama Virgo pulled out of the driveway on Sunday morning, it was 10 AM. I was up, showered, dressed, and had eaten breakfast. And church started at 11. No excuses now. What's amazing to me is no matter what day I finally show up at church, something is said or read that is exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. The chaplain droned on about the changes on the horizon (with military chaplains, they are always coming and going because they get stationed just like we do. So, why these "changes on the horizon" are so shocking is beyond me....), but one of the readings was from Hebrews 14. My eye, however wandered over to Hebrew 13. 

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison, as if you together were with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. 

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have....

Stories of Soldiers and spouses being unfaithful to one another during a deployment abound. The physical distance, it seems, is too far to build a bridge with communication and unconditional love. It becomes a test of will power to tune out these stories, to keep my imagination in check during the lull in calls and emails. A year apart, when you each have your own lives and they run parallel like the river and the road, crossing only occasionally at a bridge, can test the bonds of marriage. No spouse or Soldier can deny the tiny voices in their hearts that question. But the best we can do is have faith in each other, have faith in our marriage, and know that God will judge the adulterers and the sexually immoral. Temptation is everywhere but I stand firm in what I give in to. Yes, I will eat that molten lava cake from Chili's, but I will do so alone and wishing Neal was there to share it with me. Because...We got this!!

388 wake-ups to go! 


  1. My gosh, you are such a strong woman. And you know what? You are the first army wife I've ever really known. I mean, in a "following all your thoughts" sort of way. I've never had any good friends that were associated with the army, so I've never really known what they've gone through. So, thank you for sharing this time with us. I think it will give everyone a greater appreciation for our service people and for what their families go through.

    I may not always know exactly what to say in a comment, but please always know how much I appreciate you.

  2. The charm is perfect and beautiful. I am so happy you have it. I can't begin to imagine all you're feeling. I've done long distance but that is nothing compared to being a military spouse and having your loved one over seas. Thank you for starting this blog, getting the word out there and most of all for opening up to us and letting us support you as your words support other wives and husbands in your shoes! oxox

  3. Of course I'm following you here. This blog will be a great outlet for you, and very valuable to everyone who reads it. For other military wives, there is the community. For the rest of us, there is insight into the sacrifices people make for our security...something we should not take for granted. P.S. I love the blog name.

  4. Like Foxy, you are the only military wife I currently know. I had a lot of friends during Vietnam - ok, so there's a clue to my era! - who were "home alone" for at least one deployment over there, but honestly I was too busy with my life at that point to pay them a lot of attention. And, the good friend I have who was a career wife seemed to have it completely together and I never even asked her what was really going on.

    So, dear Ally, now I am awake and paying attention - to you. Tom Brokaw was talking last week about only 1% of Americans participating in this war, and you and Neil are my 1%.

    You are a very special lady, and you can be sure that I will be out here for the next 288 wake-ups. What can I do to help?

  5. Hugs honey! Your bracelet is beautiful, but not as beautiful as YOU!!!

  6. Nothing like a charm bracelet to help you remember what's important! I got one for Christmas to help remind me of my sweet boy at home when I'm at work. Glad you're taking it one day at a time and enjoying those chocolate temptations -- those are the best kind (other than the hub) anyway!

  7. I have Michaels wedding ring on my necklace. I am going to keep it close to my heart while he is gone. It just makes me feel better when I am missing him I basically do the same as you with your charm. Staying firm in my beliefs and true to my husband isn't ever going to be hard for me. It's being away from him for so long that is my true sacrifice that I make as an ARMY wife. I am proud of my soldier as I know you are too. And yes "We got this!"


Are you tracking?