Friday, October 10, 2014
The Pity Flowers
I sort of knew something was wrong by the expression on his face.
When you've been married for almost 12 years, you know. He wouldn't look me in the eye, for one. He bit down on his lower lip.
I had the flowers that he brought me in my arms. I was happy and surprised when he walked in with them after work. When you've been married 12 years, flowers don't happen very often. So when he gave them to me, I breathed in the sweet scent, and then I looked at his face and I knew.
I swallowed hard. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he had a rough day at work. With shaky fingers, I read the card that came with the flowers.
"I'll always be here for you..."
My heart froze. No. No, not again. Please, not again.
"You're not deploying?" I said this in a half-pleading tone. Please, please, please, no.
Tom's eyes went shifty. And then he went, "Yes."
"You brought me pity flowers," I said. I wanted to open our front door and scream the f-word at the top of my lungs. This wasn't fair. It wasn't fair! "Please. At least. Disney." I couldn't even form a proper sentence.
A small shake of his head. "I'll be gone."
I knew it. I knew if I planned a trip to Disney that the military would take him away. Why did I bother trying? This always happens. We tried to go to Disney in 2013. He was deployed. We had a family reunion planned over the summer. He had to go to a military thing. The thing about the military is, you can't plan. Your spouse is a soldier. He or she doesn't belong to you. They belong to their country. Always.
Tears spilled from my eyes. I should be used to this by now. We've been married for almost 12 years. He's been gone a good portion of those years. He's not mine, not completely. He belongs to the government. He's theirs first, mine second.
"I just. Why all the time?" I sniffled as Tom took me in his arms. "Why can't we have a family vacation ever?"
Maybe I shouldn't even be writing this blog post. ISIS has threatened to kill military families after all. But to stay silent is to let them win. I know how to fire a weapon and maybe we even have one in this house. Maybe Tom insists I carry one in my car. I will never give details on where Tom is going or when. I just can't do this alone. If I kept quiet, I'd lose my mind.
Natalie, who is a daddy's girl, was not happy when she heard Tom was leaving. "But he just got back!" she huffed. "Now what?" He shrug was almost comical, and if my heart wasn't breaking, I'd have laughed.
"You're stuck with me," I answered.
Natalie sighed. "I guess you'll do," and then she jumped on her Daddy's back, because only he can play horsie with her. I'm not strong enough. I try and I teeter back and forth and Natalie will eventually say, "This is just not the same."
I sat on the couch in a daze, hearing my little girl laugh with her Daddy, and my son, my Tommy, who has autism and struggles to decipher human emotions sat down beside me and patted my arm. "It's okay," he said, his face pinched, because crying makes him uncomfortable. "You've got this."
I've got this.