Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hello, goodbye

Oh, my poor neglected blog.

Nary a post since April. Sometimes I wonder if the writer inside me has died, or is she just hibernating? Each day, thoughts enter my mind and float around like dozens of red balloons. If only I could catch the string of one of them and float along for awhile until a thought had time to marinate, mature and eventually land me safely back on the ground.
Instead, I try to tuck away moments, memories and pray that I don't forget because I haven't written these things down. My memory is not good. So, I chastise myself for not making note of these little things because I know I will probably forget so much of this time. Then again, I'm too wrapped up in making the memories to take the time to write them down.

The long and short of our life right now is this: Greg came home in May for two weeks of R&R. I wore a red dress and heels to the airport to pick him up. Andrew wore his American flag T-shirt. I worried about his reaction to seeing his Daddy for the first time since November. But, when Greg touched Andrew's back and spoke his name, our boy gave him a most precious gift. A fleeting puzzled look crossed his face and then a wide smile and "Dada!" and then he reached his arms to Greg. In his father's arms, Andrew lay his head on Greg's shoulder, and reached his arms around his Dad's broad chest. And he stayed that way, for what seemed like a very long time. I was crying, Greg was crying and Andrew was smiling.

I realized, as I drove toward home -- Greg sitting in the back seat beside Andrew, both of them laughing -- that I was lighter. The double burden of parenting alone while worrying over Greg's safety had been lifted and I experienced a physical change. I could breath easier. I was not sucking my teeth, as I have done since Greg left, causing my already jacked up smile to be even more jacked. There was a deep sense of relief -- a calm that I had not experienced since Greg deployed in November and have not felt since he returned to Afghanistan.

It was as if no time had passed at all. When Andrew came down with the croup the next day and I had to go to the rehearsal dinner for my niece's wedding, Greg stayed home with him. They were like peas and carrots.

We spent the next week vacationing in a very old house in a very old town. We pretended to be normal for a while. We walked out to the river bank behind the house every morning to feed the ducks or observe a slowly rambling turtle looking for a place to lay her eggs. We walked by grand houses on our way to downtown for breakfast or lunch. We visited a particular playground nearly everyday and made friends with the regulars. We cooked our favorite meals and ate together as a family. We went to the beach and the aquarium and strolled around Target. After Andrew was tucked into his bed, we sat out on the back deck and drank wine and held hands. It was wonderful and it was short and before we knew it, we were back home and then, it was time for Greg to go.

At the airport, I held on tight and when Greg told me he had to go, a breathless, desperate plea -- "wait!" rose from my heart and leaped out of my mouth.

But he could not wait and I knew that. It was time for him to put on his armor and go back into battle and time for me to do the same. When we got back home, Andrew searched our little house for his Daddy, certain Greg was in our bed taking a nap. In the days that followed, he called for his Daddy many times and cried when I told him over and over that Daddy was gone.

The day after Memorial Day, as we sat at my parents' kitchen table, Andrew caught a glimpse of a photo of a soldier in uniform, his back to the camera, his head cropped out of the shot. "Dada!" he called as he pointed a sticky finger at the man. "Dada gone."

Thankfully, he rarely calls for Greg now. Instead, he points to the computer screen and demands "Dada" on video chat.

Needless to say, I'm back to sucking my teeth.