Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Recent Reminiscing

I was reminiscing just a bit ago with Grace. Our conversation was brought on by the post I wrote for Seven Inches of Service this week. She just finished reading it, and she reminded me of the late night phone calls we used to have when I was worried about Clark, or upset about something that had happened, or I was so excited about what he said that I couldn’t wait until morning to share. She had the patience of a saint with me. I know I sounded (ok so it’s actually still present tense) like a broken record. “I miss Clark.” Blah, blah, blah, on and on. Poor Grace, sometimes I wonder how she puts up with all of it. She didn’t even get the camel she was promised ;-)

Anyway, as the deployment progresses, there will inevitably be calls you miss. No matter how careful you are about phone days or how close you keep your cell phone, sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control. In ten months, I missed four phone calls. Not bad considering the amount of calls I did receive, but I can still remember each and every missed call. There are two that really stick into my head.

The first time Clark called me after he left, my phone had no reception and didn’t even ring. He had been gone for eleven days, and I missed him terribly. I knew he was safe because my TG’s husband had called home a couple times but Clark hadn’t called. I had been told that Clark missed me and wanted to call but he had been on guard duty each time his crew went to the phone center. Then, finally, the time he didn’t have guard duty…of course he called, it was 2:20 am my time.

TG called and woke me up to see how Clark was doing and I was completely confused. She asked me, hadn’t I talked to him, he was at the phones and he said he was calling me. And I told her that no, I hadn’t talked to him. So I told her I would call her back and I saw that there was a voice message on my phone. It was Clark, and the message is forever etched into my brain, along with the tone and inflection of his voice.

He said, “Hi Audrey, it’s Clark. I just wanted to let you know that I’m ok, I’m still here. And I will call you again as soon as I can.” And that was it.

I collapsed into sobs, he had sounded so exhausted, so disappointed; it absolutely broke my heart. I had been trying so hard to be brave and strong about him being gone. I hadn’t complained that he hadn’t called yet, I tried so much to be happy for TG and all the other wives that had already gotten calls and then this. I was literally distraught because to make matters worse, Clark thought (out of the whole deployment insecurity issue) that I was screening his call and that I didn’t want to talk to him anymore!! Which really is the most ridiculous idea, but at the time it seemed rational to him.

Fortunately, he was able to get away and call me two days later, and I have to say that those were the best ten minutes I’d ever spent on the phone. I remember being at the post office for work and a strange number showed up on my phone. I answered a bit confused, and as soon as I heard his voice I squealed…I got some disapproving looks from fellow patrons, but I couldn’t have cared less.

We worked out all the confusion and ended up closer than before. After that point, whenever he could beg, borrow, or steal a phone he would call. Sometimes only for a minute or two just so that I would know he was thinking about me.

Aahh memories, it’s nice that they aren’t painful anymore. Anyway, thanks Grace, and Joan, and Ingrid, and Rie, and TG and D all the others who went through that insane year with me.

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