I am half way through the first stint of this tour. 9 weeks done, yet 9 weeks until R&R. This is tour is definitely different to Op Herrick 10, but the loneliness is the same. This time I have two little boys running around my legs, rather than one and a bulging bump.
My children keep me busy, however I am finding it hard coping without any sort of restbite. As I write this I can feel myself tensing up and my eyes getting watery. What I am going through is loneliness, yet what I am going through is bound to wear off in some form onto my children. If I cannot cope, how can they? Up until this tour I was convinced I wanted another child, a girl to fill my painted nails/pig-tailed hole in my heart. It has become clear that I am not Wonder Woman, and two little boys is enough for me.
The first few weeks of deployment were difficult, T cried every night when I put him to be (how did he know it was different? Daddy doesn't live here anyway). He would no longer allow me to close his bedroom door at bedtime, like a security thing I guess... He wanted to know that I was still here and wouldn't disappear too. I would sit downstairs and cry as I listened to his plea "I want daddy, I want daddy" - his broken speech through falling tears. In time will he forget? Will he think Daddy was gone forever so there was no point in crying as he never came?
Weeks passed, these nights continued, I started dreading bedtime as I knew the heartache it would cause myself as well as him. J would try to comfort us both, as he could not sleep whilst T yelled. One night I sat at the bottom of the stairs with my head in my hands, breathing with difficulty. I heard J creep in to see T. "Here T, have my Daddy, you can cuddle him and it will be like he's here". J has a lot of army toys, including a HM Armed Forces "action man" type figure. That gesture, as small to some as it may seem, made me weep. When I'm in a "can't cope" mood I know my boys will have each other.
Soon the night time cries became shorter, and now they are more of a short moan. Whilst I was in it I felt it would never end. T has not forgotten H, they speak on the phone, he tells people "Daddy is in work, to get me toys". I guess children learn to cope too. J is very mature for his age, and only now and again will he miss H, I suppose it is different for J as he still has his true father on the scene, therefore has a male influence in his life. When H is away, T only has J in his life.
I have proven myself stronger than previously thought. Please do not get me wrong, I still cry at least two times a week. I still lay in bed at night with the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. And I still drive to work wishing he had kissed me goodbye at the doorstep (something that would not even be true if he was here, something I never wish for whilst he is in this country). I still hear songs that start me off and the lump in my throat rises.
I am lucky enough to have a supporting mum, and a supporting work place. My mum at the moment is my rock, more than she has been before. I look to her for refuge. I look to her for help. During my entire life I have been a 'Daddy's Girl', unfortuately I am not the same Daddy's Girl as I previously has been. I feel I have lost both the main men in my life. My husband, my bestfriend, my love is miles and miles and miles away fighting, living in a war. My dad, my hero, my cornerstone is in the next town, fragile, half the man that he was, sat in his room on a chair in a care home at the age of 47. Last tour my dad was everything, he helped me paint the nursery, decorate the kitchen, and stayed nights on the sofa when I was feeling low. He would turn up early in the morning to cook me breakfast to make sure I ate. He would walk J to school for me. He would clean my car. Now he sits there like an old man, but his eyes are still young. And I need him, but he can no longer give me what I need. I can no longer be the dad he's always been. This change is probably harder for him than it is for me. I go to visit him (admittedly this is rare) and I put on my brave face, the face I use in times of fear and upset, the face that drains every ounce of me just so I do not upset others.
H is amazing when he rings, and he writes me beautiful letters. He has booked surprises for me for R&R as it coincides with our two year anniversary. Just thinking of R&R is what gets me through the lonley moments (whether they be on the sofa, laying in bed or sat at my desk in work). I find myself sitting (laying) there with a big fat smile on my face, if anyone were watching they'd probably assume I was mentally unstable. My eyes gaze upwards, or are closed in a day dream. Today I came home from work to a perfectly folded blue rectangle shaped letter (how does he get the folds spot on?? I always seem to mess one up when sealing). I grabbed the letter and ran inside. It was addressed to 'Kirsty MILF' - I assumed that was me. As I opened the letter, carefully so not to ruin is expertly sealed edges, a playing card fell out. I thought I knew what this would be, during his last tour is robbed the card '4 of Hearts' as the number 4 was my favourite number. I am not sure if I have mentioned this before but the numbers 4 (mine), 10 (his) and 14 (ours) always play a relevant part of our life. I picked up my new playing card, Op Herrick 16 playing card. "Oh" I thought as I sat on the toilet, lid down (the bathroom where I grab 1 minute maximum of peace). I held in my hand the 4 of Spades. That I was not expecting. I open the letter fully and start reading.
This is what it read "I was walking through camp the other day and in the middle of an open area that I have to walk through I noticed a playing card, face down in the dust. I picked it up and it was the four of spades. I've posted it to you for you to keep as a symbol of how lucky we are. 4, 10 & 14 are not lucky numbers but just numbers that remind us of how lucky we are. Lucky to have met and lucky to have stayed together (you're the lucky one really I could have gone after you done two runners from me)."
Moments like these are what keep you going. Something as silly as this to others make your heart skip a beat, you beam with happiness. I shall place this 4 of Spades with my 4 of Hearts. Together they make 8 - 8th August 2010, my wedding day, my happy thought. I love my soldier. I shall wait forever & ever & ever & ever & ever....
Three things will last forever -
faith, hope, and love - and the
greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (New Living Translation)