Jan. 22, 2010
Vivian, a Navy veteran and spouse, regularly guest blogs for Family Matters and shares her experiences as a spouse of a deployed sailor and a mother of two. Her husband, a Navy lieutenant, is deployed to Iraq and she has two boys who, she says, “enjoy peanut butter, trucks and air shows.”
In this blog, Vivian writes about how she’s clinging to reminders of her husband’s short visit home, including a leftover piece of pizza and a load of laundry, to keep feeling he’s close at hand.
In my fridge sits one leftover piece of pizza from my husband’s last dinner at home while he was here on leave from his deployment. We were lucky enough to have him over the holidays, which felt like winning the lottery.
We packed so much into that two-week window, I felt like I was that whirling Tasmanian devil in the cartoons my kids watch. And we cherished every minute of it.
From the anticipation of picking him up at the airport, to family coming into town, to frying our Christmas turkey, to riding around looking at Christmas lights, to going to an indoor water park, to buying a biosphere that contains two miniature frogs that I was outvoted on getting, we were a whirling dervish of family togetherness, right up until the “last meal” that we enjoyed together.
As his last dinner he chose his favorite pizza place. It has the “Jersey Shore” feeling he says that reminds him of going to the boardwalk when he was a kid. There was one last piece left that no one could fit down … and now I can’t bring myself to either eat it or throw it away. So there it sits, mocking me while growing another skin in our fridge – a smelly, and somewhat odd, reminder that the man of the house, an integral piece of our family, is gone again.
It isn’t the only thing he has left behind either. I also have avoided folding and putting away the last load of laundry I did because I know there are a few of his T-shirts in there and I guess I’m thinking that if I don’t put them away it is like he isn’t really gone yet. He could actually walk through the door unexpectedly and put away his own clothes … and while he’s at it he could finish off the specialty beer I splurged on for his short visit home that he didn’t manage to finish. Or put away his huge, clunking shoes that he left out. The boys are using them and pretending to water ski around the living room. So weird I know … but can we all say coping device? Can anyone relate?
Of course, the most obvious thing that he left behind as a reminder of himself and the big gap in our lives for the remainder of this deployment are his two little mini-me’s – Thing 1 and Thing 2. Which, in stark contrast to the smelly pizza and paint-stained T-shirts, is actually comforting and reassuring to me; a reminder of things yet to come and promises not yet fulfilled; a reflection of our past together and, yet, also our future, full of wonderful things yet to be had.
Thing 1 loves nothing in the world more than to be told he looks like his daddy. And I could spend hours looking at pictures of Mike and both kids cuddling on the couch or “working” out in the yard. There is no one else I would rather spend this time with than the two little reminders of the wonderful man my husband is and who we get to be with when he finally returns to us.
And, we’ve got lots to keep us busy until he does. Life goes on, right? We’ve got new spring sports to try (baseball this time), day trips to take, homework to do, friends to spend time with, and I guess some laundry to do. And, I should finally throw that pizza out, eh? And maybe do the same with that nasty T-shirt.
There is one good thing about him being out of the house. I can finally pare down the man’s insane T-shirt collection without worrying about him finding the evidence in the donation bag. See, there are some good things about deployments!