4.05.2010

Between Iraq and a Hard Place....

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.

Gulp.

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*

20 comments:

A Daring Adventure said...

Gah! I think Blogger just ate my comment!! So in case it really is gone...

Okay, I will try to re-create it...

... I came on and said... hugs to you...

I can't even imagine.

(And don't even joke about the Bunny Ranch thing and the dollar bills!!!)

And that Matt will love being out and about and doing Studly Dude stuff that's all cool and nifty - stuff they love doing - stuff they've trained a long time to do!

And then I said to try to think of the Ominous Paperwork as actually just documents that should be done by all folks with children and responsibilities... and that all will be well...

... and then I complimented you on your incredibly witty blog post title! And told you how very clever it was...

... so now, just in case my first comment *was* actually eaten by Blogger, I have done my best to re-created it.

Hugs to you... Matt's really gone now for training? :(

Emily said...

My husband came home last week and told me that he wants to go to Iraq for his next tour. Now I realize that we have awhile before I really have to worry about it, and he could change his mind, but reading your post really hit home. There are so many benefits, and more than likely everything will be fine. However, the what ifs are what makes it hard to breathe.
I hope the next few weeks all go well, and everything works out without too much stress. Good luck.

Christy said...

Aw hun I'm so sorry you're having to think about the worst and prepare for the worst! I felt more comfortable sharing my experience with you via email - so check your inbox mommma! In the meantime, chin up, he'll be okay, and so will you. Think how awesome those three trips home will be, and how much more awesome it will be when the year is over!

Mommy, I'm Home said...

How scary for you and him. Let's hope the year goes fast for both of you.

nydental said...

OH Jillith!!!

I am in tears reading your heart-felt words. I don't pretend to understand everything that you and Matt are going through, but I know that you are strong and you will both get through this in one piece. I'm praying for you. I love you guys. xoxo yas

fsowannabe said...

It is a terrible sacrifice for both of you (I can only imagine how difficult it is for your husband to leave you and your children for so long). Hopefully it will be well worth it with a sweet post on the other side of the year. Your family will be in my prayers.

Kristen said...

Wow, what a heavy post. Thanks for your transparency. And thank you to you, Matt and your entire family for making this sacrifice for our country. I can't even begin to imagine what you're all going through, but it makes me proud to be part of this crazy Foreign Service World. Blessings to you as you prepare for this new transition and I'll be sure to send some extra prayers your way!

Mom24 said...

(((Hugs)))

I've thought a lot about this angle of this deployment. Obviously you'll all be in my prayers. I hope the next year flies by and it brings you all safe and sound and ready for your next adventure in July, 2011.

Till then, I'm only an email away to vent, or whatever.

Donna said...

Pack out is bad enough without worrying about what's next for him. Please tell me you've at least snagged a linked assignment so you're not worrying about bidding, too.

He'll be fine, and the year will fly by. I promise. We'll be right next door in Jordan, so if he needs to fly out for some R&R, we can take care of him - or you can come meet him in Jordan and hang in our quiet house while you're there.

Hey, and my husband does that, too, where he forwards the emails to me with a "please take care of this so I don't have to" understanding.

The Bald Guy said...

I wish him all the luck from the bottom of my heart, and I'm going to pray for this Iraq thing to get resolved, that should be the best option for you and for the countless other wives whose husbands don't have the Kevlar vests.

God bless you all. I wish at times there were a Magic wand that one of us could wave and there'd be peace in all countries. Sadly, that would be a dream for all times to come.

Take care.

Natalie said...

Sending you hugs babe. Sending you hugs.

Brooke said...

Bless you, bless you - for many reasons. Not the least of which is the honest way you always face challenges and write about them in a way that can help others struggling with similar situations.

anymommy said...

Scary. I know it will be the fastest and slowest year of your life. He'll be in my thoughts. My sister deploys to Afghanistan or Iraq for six month assignments. On a far less intimate level, I get it.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Nice to meet you! Wandered over from Facts...Optional....

The year will go fast! We know lots of people who have done it and come back home safe and sound (no conneherras)(sp?). And you'll have so much fun in California!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Dollar bills, ha! Come on focus on the positive right?

I don't know how you do it. Up till now it all sounded pretty interesting but I don't think I would do so well with Iraq. Focus on all the fun things you'll do with the kids and on the things you'll do when he visits.

It won't be easy but, just think, California's not a dry state right?! ;)

MommyNaniBooboo said...

Oh my heart goes out to you!
Rely on that deep well of strength that is there somewhere... and you know... breathe every now and then.
And in this economy, forget the dollar bills- just send him with a roll of quarters. :)

David L. said...

Can't imagine the stress you and your family are going through as the countdown gets smaller.

Also wanted to pass a word of advice to all the FS people who stop by this blog. We all should have our affairs in order prior to leaving for post.

Robin said...

Thinking of you and holding you all close in my heart.

You know where we are if a bit of "in the neighborhood" R&R becomes possible.

While the days will crawl by the months will fly, and soon it will all be behind you as you move forward, together, to your next grand adventure.

Connie said...

May the time fly by for you all (except the times when he is home with you on R&R... let that drag by slowly!) and bring you all back together soon, soon, soon!

Lisa said...

that gave me chills, Jill. I can't imagine how hard this must be. You are a strong lady though, and if anyone can do it, it's you. Thinking of you & hoping you're getting lots of time to soak Matt up!

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