Monday, August 22, 2005

Military Service Announcement

This week over at Seven Inches of Service we discuss the topic of grief. Specifically, the grief process that we go through when our soldiers deploy. The emotions we encounter when we have to say the actual goodbyes...there are some pretty moving posts up there today. I will link the posts once everyone has theirs finished.

When Clark went overseas, I went through a modified grieving process. My experience was a bit different than most because I wasn’t physically with Clark when he left. There were no tearful embraces, no last minute kisses, no longing looks as he boarded a plane. Too bad, in a way, it would have made for a better story.

We did have a tearful goodbye, it just happened to be over the phone. It was a Monday in May and I was at work when the first call came. Clark was loading gear bags into the planes all morning and in between each set of bags he called just to chat for thirty seconds to a minute.

We both knew that soon he’d be getting onto the plane and that would be the last conversation for God only knew how long. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t have focused on work if my life had depended on it. Instead, I stared at my phone, willing it to ring or at least receive a text message from Clark.

After about three hours of this back and forth, the time came. We tried to be as normal as possible but after a few minutes, Clark’s voice got husky and we forgot all about the small talk and said all the things that were really important. I heard his officers in the back ground and I knew that he was already on the plane. We stayed on the phone through all the pre-flight checks…through the announcements and instructions…then Clark had to go. He said, “I love you babe, I will call as soon as I can. I’ve gotta go now. Love you.”

He was gone…that was the last thing I would hear from him for almost three weeks. I stayed strong on the phone, but as soon as we hung up, I cried and cried. I berated myself for falling apart. Hadn’t I known from the beginning that Clark was going overseas? Hadn’t I known what I was getting into?

Fortunately, my service girls told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was entitled to my tears and that some grief was completely normal. That helped more than I can say. I cried off and on for a couple days and then skipped right into the acceptance phase. I knew Clark was doing exactly what he was had to. I knew that if given the choice, he wouldn’t have left me for a year; but I also knew that he needed me to support his deployment not question it or him.

So I allowed myself the sadness of the distance, but I vented my frustrations, fears and loneliness to the girls and occupied my time with work and the peculiar little rituals that all military girlfriends develop; knowing that time would eventually pass and Clark would one day be back in my arms.

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