Friday, November 14, 2008

Before Iraq

(Photo of Sergio taken Aug. '06 by SGT Leonard of Bravo Co. 1/68 ~ Baquabah, Iraq)

I don't think it comes as any surprise that I love my husband. States & Separation be damned. I married him because he was everything I'd ever wanted and then some. Because his idea of a first date was carving pumpkins with my Turkeys and ordering pizza so we could all watch movies together cuddled up on blankets on the floor. Because he shared the values I based raising my children upon. And, because every time he knocked on my front door, I was deliriously happy.

The day he left for Iraq, he had to be at his duty station at 5 am. We woke up the Turkeys and bundled them in the van. It was winter and everything was gray & gloomy out. I remember sitting in the dark van waiting on his soldiers to show up before he left and thinking that these would be our last moments together for 12 long months.
What do you say in those moments? He wasn't leaving for college, or going on a long trip. He was going to Iraq. To war. To kill or be killed. I told him that I loved him, and that I would be praying for him every moment. And then, I cried. He left and I sat there and cried. Deep, crushing sobs that woke up my babies and had them climbing into the front seat to comfort me.

The next several hours are a blur. My girl had school, so off she went. My Jen-nay showed up with 2 pictures she'd taken of Sergio with a cell phone and framed for me. We sat on the floor in my bedroom and she told me how he'd pulled her aside a few days prior and told her that he was worried about how I was going to take him being in Iraq. He was worried about me.

When my phone rang at around 10 am that morning, I never expected to hear his voice asking me to get to post As Soon As Possible with.......his keys.
Yep. You can send the boy to war, but you can't make him tie his shoes!
Off I went, happily jingling his keys and for once, glad that he was as forgetful as a 4 year old. Ft. Carson was a zoo that day. Women and children were everywhere in every state of sobbing, and consoling you can think of. It was madness, and Sergio and I found a quiet corner to sit in until he was told to get on the bus that would take them to Petersen AFB where they would board the flight that would fly to Kuwait.
I have no idea what we talked about that day. I remember the feel of his ACU's against my face, and the way they smelled. (Never matter how much fabric softener you stuff in the pockets) I remember being interrupted by nervous looking soldiers and thinking, "He's just a little boy. Surely his Mama's not letting him really go to Iraq. There's a friggin' WAR over there!" And being asked by every other person we saw to, "Please take one last picture of our family."

There was a woman with a small baby who also stayed off to the side by herself. I remember wanting to talk to her..she looked as lost as I felt. And determined not to cry, but I saw her hands shaking when she took their baby from her husband right before he walked away. I saw her stare at the ground determinately and then raise her clear eyes to her husband for one last wave before she turned and hurried from the building. It took every ounce of energy I had, not to run after that woman and hug her. I wanted to tell her that she was just as brave as he is. Letting her soul walk away had to be the hardest moment of her life, and that she is a wonderful woman for holding her composure. For making sure that the last image her husband had of her was one of a smiling, strong face. He could get on that plane knowing that his wife and little baby would make it through the next few months because of her. I still think of her...of them to this day.

After the boys were really gone, I went home and collapsed on my bed. I didn't cry again though. Seeing all the families that were torn apart that day made me realize how fortunate I was to be in the position I was in when he left. We weren't married yet, and I'd already been living alone and was a single parent. The only thing that really changed after he left were the empty nights. My children missed him, but he wasn't their Father and it wasn't a life-style change for him to be gone.
Little did I know...Nine days later, every bit of that would change...


ChiTown Girl said...

Good Lord, I've GOT to stop reading blogs at work!!! I'm sitting here at my desk with tears streaming down my face!! The kids think I'm crazy (which I guess I am since I'm on the computer, while they're doing centers!! I know, shame on me!)

This is such a beautifully written piece. You should seriously consider doing some freelance writing for some publication. You are fabulous!

Anonymous said...

That was lovely.. and sad too. Thanks for sharing.

Rabidparadise said...

Thank you! Didn't mean to make you cry CG, though I'm glad to know you felt what I wrote...that's what its all about right? :-D

Washington Cowgirl said...

Gosh, my heart just starts pounding and my eyes fill up with tears when I hear about saying goodbye to someone leaving for war.