When Tom stopped by in the middle of his shift, things were not going well.
For starters, Natalie was in the middle of throwing a gigantic fit over the fact that I told her that she was two and not three. I wish I were joking. She had run up to me and had gone, “Mommy, I three!” and I had kindly said, “No, sweetheart, you’re only two,” and she suddenly sank to her knees, let out an ear piercing scream and bellowed, “I’m THREEEEEEEEE!”
It’s times like that when I wish I had an actual job where I could deposit her at a daycare facility and let the caregivers deal with her ridiculous tantrums.
Also, I was slightly annoyed that she was screaming because I was in the middle of watching a very good episode of Dawson’s Creek while I was tidying up the living room.
And then Tom walked inside and scared me to death. First he had knocked lightly on the door and I thought we had a package. I was all thrilled because yay, something good to distract me from my daughter’s incessant screaming. But then the door actually opened and I thought, “Burglar! What can I use as a weapon?” and the first thing I grabbed was a coaster. I suppose a coaster could cause damage if thrown correctly but I cannot throw to save my life so what probably would have happened is that the coaster wouldn’t have even reached the perpetrator and would have simply dropped a few feet away from him (or her. There are some bad ass female burglars out there after all.)
But it was just Tom. I assumed he wanted to pick up something for lunch so I said, “There are some frozen meals in the freezer or I can make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” I scooped up Natalie, who was starting to calm down.
“I don’t want to eat,” Tom answered. I noticed that he had a distracted look on his face. I knew something was up. I mean, you have to understand, my husband always wants to eat. Even if he’s consumed a gigantic meal he’s still able to eat.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Look, if you really beg, I’ll make you a ham and cheese sandwich but that’s my final offer.”
“No.” Tom shook his head. “No…it’s just, I just found out that I have orders to Korea.” Then he immediately tensed and braced himself. I don’t blame him. He was probably waiting for one of my famous freak outs. There was one when he informed me we were moving to Montana and I think I traumatized him by the way I carried on. Thankfully that worked out and it turned out we didn’t have to go there after all.
Anyhow, when he told me about Korea, I thought he was joking at first. So I went, “Very funny, Tom. It’s not a good time for jokes.” Then I saw his expression and realized he was serious so I went, “I’m not going to Korea,” and he said, “No. It’s just me. I’m going. For a year. I leave in August.” Then he tensed up again.
I took this in. Tom would be gone for an entire year.
“But remember, I’ll make extra money so you get shop more,” Tom quickly said. He probably thought the screaming was about to commence. But for some reason, I didn’t feel any sort of rage. I just calmly looked at him and went, “Okay.”
“Okay?” Tom raised an eyebrow. He was probably all, “That’s it?”
“Okay. I mean I’ll miss you but I’m just glad I don’t have to go,” I said with a shrug.
I could see Tom’s body relax. “So you’re okay with this?”
“I guess I have to be. And don’t you get to pick the base you want to go to when you get back?” I wondered.
Tom nodded. “I should. What I do is give them a list of bases I want to go to and they try to send me to one of those. But,” and then he went rigid again, “there have been cases where the Air Force just sends a person wherever. So we could wind up at a crappy base.”
My jaw immediately clenched. “But I thought that when you went for a year that you were guaranteed one of the bases that you wrote down.”
“That’s how it should go yes. But….you know the Air Force.” And Tom turned his hands over, palms up.
Yes. I do know the Air Force. My faith in them has been slowly diminishing.
“So I guess we just keep our fingers crossed and hope that the Air Force is fair,” I said.
“I guess that’s all we can do.”
There was a silence. Then I went, “I really am going to miss you. Wow. An entire year.”
Tom took Natalie from me and hugged me close. “I know. But we’ll manage. We can, you know, Skype. You can occasionally show me your boobies and—hey, what!” He dodged my hand that was smacking his arm lightly.
“And I get the bed to myself.” I wiggled my eyebrows up and down. You have to understand that my husband is a very shifty man. His leg usually winds up on my waist and his arm has been known to fling across my face in the dead of night.
I took a deep breath. “We’ll be okay. I know that we’ll be okay. We just have to hope that the Air Force comes through for us this time. We just have to hope that they come through.”