As I continue to blink my eyes, I'm noticing the days are passing just as quickly as they started. I need to be careful because I'm afraid that if I blink too fast, we'll miss these next nine weeks five days ... not that I'm counting or anything.
The girls started back at school today after a completely uneventful two-week spring break. While it was great to have a few minutes of alone time, I was quite saddened to actually have to set my alarm clock. I was just getting into the groove of sleeping until 7 am.
We have spent endless hours organizing, photographing, e-mailing, and selling as many household items as we possibly could in the last few days. My fear was that with Matt out of town for the next six weeks that I'd be going through stuff that he hadn't decided to keep or donate, sell or throw away, and I'd be a frazzled mess by the time he returned... mere days before our pack-out. So we've been through the entire house. We've made lists. We've mentally labeled what we want. Where we want things to go... UAB to LA, HHE to Elso, Storage in MD to LA, Storage in Elso to LA, UAB from LA to DC and then onto Iraq. The acronyms in the U.S.G. never E.N.D. What we think we'll need in the next year, and what we know we don't want to see again. If ever. Surprisingly, almost all of our large items have sold. Though it isn't the money we're excited about. It's the weight we now have available. For the good ole' US Government ships 7200 pounds of our 'stuff' on them ... and every additional pound we send back to the States costs us $3.25. That ends up being a whole lot of money for stuff we just don't need. Or want.
Matt received several e-mails today regarding his deployment to Iraq, and for the first time in all of this, I had an "ah-ha" moment, that wasn't so pretty. See, Matt forwards on a majority of e-mails to me so that I can read over the information to ensure he's not missing anything. Of course, sometimes it really means, "Read this and tell me what I need to do, and if possible, can you just do it for me because I trust that you'll take care of it..blah blah blah." And usually I do. But today was different. Because the e-mails he sent me were detailing the insane amount of steps that he needs to take in order to get to next posting. Things that his mother would absolutely freak out reading. And for the first time, a very small part of me did too.
I have to remain strong and believe in my heart of hearts that this next assignment is just a small bump in our personal road. That career-wise it will put Matt in good standing. That the money is too good to pass up. That it helps us move forward ... in the right direction... and takes me and the kids back to the States. But the reality is that it's still Iraq. It's still a war zone. Despite him doing as much as he can to stay safe, that sometimes things are entirely out of his control. And with his proposed assignment, he won't be snug as a bug in a rug in the Green Zone... he'll be out and about. Exposed. (insert shudder and hair standing on arms here). Like his mother, I'm not entirely sure I want to hear everything he's going to be doing. Ignorance is sometimes bliss. Sometimes.
The first e-mail I opened caught me by surprise. It was fourteen pages on the complex travel policies and procedures. Complex my a**. More like a convoluted, administrative quagmire. The next document was the welcome to post cable. Another seven page document that tells me my husband is going to be living in a blast-resistant building, sharing a two-bedroom 'apartment' with a flat-mate. They have a 27 inch LCD TV, a US telephone line, wireless internet, and 70 channels on the cable TV. What is this... a college fraternity? Are they also providing adult entertainment, a la the ladies from Scores or the Bunny Ranch in Vegas?
But what brought me a tear, maybe two, was the last of the documents. The Iraq Deployment Guide. Which in the second paragraph states that in each person's preparation for deployment they should get all their affairs in order; bank accounts, health insurance, power of attorney, and of course, their wills.
If Matt does his job correctly, he should be visiting us three times over the next year, and returning to us in one piece next July. Maybe with a few more gray hairs. Probably with a little less sensitivity. Definitely ready to move back into his life as a married father of three, vice a bachelor living in a blast-resistant hovel. I can't think of the alternative. Aside from signing a few official papers prior to his deployment, I don't want to let the thoughts enter my mind. But they do.
We're thankful that he's going with a handful of his friends who he's know through training, through previous posts, or who he's heard about through the grapevine. I'm thankful that I have a few friends who I can commiserate with. Who understand what feelings and emotions I have (and will have in the future) about this every single step of the way.
For now we just read and re-read the e-mails. And think of all the things we need to get him ... like a new laptop (PC or Macbook), a new digital point and shoot camera, new sheets for his twin bed (so he can reminisce he's back in junior high...), and a few extra $1 bills... for who.. knows... what. *wink*