As most people know, my husband is in Qatar. He's been there since March. He'll be back in September. Hopefully. This is the letter I wrote him on the day he left:
Today I had to do one of the hardest things I've ever had to do before: I had to say goodbye to you for six months. You wouldn't believe how much my heart hurts right now. It started out as a dull ache when we woke up this morning and now has turned into a massive hurt that encompasses my entire body. I hate this. I hate feeling like this.
When the alarm went off this morning at six I could hardly believe that it was time. That in a few hours you'd be gone. You know that I'm not a morning person but today I didn't complain. I simply pulled on my clothes and woke up Tommy and got him dressed. We didn't speak much as you double checked to make sure you had everything and then loaded your bags into the car. Then you asked if I was ready and I wanted to say that I would never be ready for something like this. Never. But instead I nodded and walked out to the car.
When we got to your squadron I nearly cried. Instead I held it back because I didn't want to worry you. I watched as you unloaded your bags and then we went into another building for the breakfast they had set up. I spotted the donuts right away and usually I'd rush over and load up my plate. This morning I couldn't. I got one and placed it on my plate but could only nibble on it.
I watched the other families and wondered if they felt the same way I did. I saw one family who had a tiny baby, maybe a few months old, and couldn't stop thinking that when I saw her again she'd probably be crawling.
I just held your hand while we waited. Tommy kept trying to run outside so I couldn't focus one hundred percent on the fact that in a matter of minutes, you'd be gone. Some guy came up and gave a speech on how all the spouses behind would be okay. He said to call if we had any problems. Then he told the troops who were leaving to take care of themselves and to watch out. He mentioned something about a bombing at the gate that made my blood run cold. I know that Qatar is relatively safe but it still worried me. I told you that if you could avoid it, to not work at the gates.
Then it was time for you to leave. I followed you out as you retrieved your bags and threw them on the bus. Then you came over and enveloped me into your arms. We kissed and I held you close. I wish that I had something profound to say but instead I just asked you to be safe and to hurry home to me. Then I watched as you picked up a wiggly Tommy and kissed him goodbye. When you set Tommy down I bent down and said, "Say goodbye to your father, Tommy." Tommy lifted up his hand and waved it. "Buh-bye Daddy," he said and then went off to explore a rock. I told you that he didn't understand fully what was happening, to not be offended because he wasn't bawling. You kissed me again and then said you had to go.
Watching you get on that bus was tough. I wanted to run after you and beg you to stay. Instead I stood there, my eyes flicking from the bus to Tommy, who kept wandering off. I didn't notice when you came back until I looked back over. Then there you were! You said you came back for one last hug and kiss and I rushed into your arms again. I tried to remember exactly how I felt against your chest. I breathed in your Old Spice and told you I loved you. We kissed once more and then you got on the bus for the final time.
I stayed there until the bus pulled away. When the engines roared on my heart clenched. When the bus pulled away a few tears slipped down my cheeks. If Tommy hadn't been there I probably would have lost it. But I wanted to be brave for him. I didn't want him to worry about his mother who had suddenly burst into tears.
After the bus pulled away I took Tommy's hand and led him to the car. It was weird slipping into the drivers side because you always do the driving. I put the key in the ignition and had to wait a few minutes to gain composure. Then I backed out and started the drive home. While we drove I explained to Tommy that it would just be him and I for awhile and asked him to be a good boy. I said that Daddy was going bye-bye to serve his country and Tommy said, "Daddy bye-bye?" in the saddest voice I had ever heard.
When we pulled up at the gate I was sent to the search pit. I pulled into it and when I got out a few tears slipped down my cheeks. I told the soldier that my husband had just deployed and she gave me a sympathetic look and searched my car quickly. When she finished I drove the rest of the way home. You'd be impressed to know that I actually parked straight for once! After I did that Tommy and I went inside and right away, Tommy started to act up. He took a box of tissues and hurled them right at my chest. I told him not to do that but he screamed at me and was sent to time out. When he came out I got to his level and explained that we had to work as a team, that you would have wanted it that way. Tommy gave me a sad look and then we hugged.
I can't believe I won't see you again for six months. It helps that you'll be able to call once in awhile and e-mail. But still. The fact that I won't see you for six months hurts. Really hurts. We will be okay though, I don't want you to worry about that. I have Tommy and when Jennifer gets back, I'll have her.
I want you to take care of yourself, you hear?
I love you I love you and I love you. Always.