Well, instead of three months to go, we’re back up to seven months. Ben’s deployment has been extended.
This was not welcome news, of course. Given the level of activity over there, and the politics over here, I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m a bunch of other emotions – frustrated, sad, disappointed, concerned – but surprise is not one of them. It’s not like I really have a say in the matter, so I’m trying not to waste my emotions and energy on the things I can’t control. But that doesn’t make it any less lousy.
The first eight months of this deployment have gone by fairly quickly, so I guess I should be encouraged. But I have a feeling this next stretch will be tough. There’s a birthday, our anniversary, the holidays, another birthday…days that are made beautiful by spending them with the people you love. I’m grateful to have dear family and friends to celebrate with, but I know those days will feel incomplete without Ben.
It’s been a long week. Between dealing with some stressful situations at work and feeling a bit overwhelmed with managing life details on my own, I was so glad to survive Friday and make my way home to recover and regroup. As I drove home Friday, some sappy song on the radio made me all teary as I pulled in the driveway. I would have given anything to have someone waiting for me at home – for a hug, an encouraging word, a glass of wine. I snapped out of my wallowing when I heard my phone ring as I neared the door. It’s as if the universe knew I needed a pick-me-up – it was Ben.
Charlie and Nimitz were a little frustrated that they didn’t have my undivided attention when I arrived home, but they proceeded with their usual greetings anyways: Charlie incessantly licking my hand/arm/knee/whatever he can reach, and Nimitz carrying his blanket in his mouth, tail wagging ridiculously fast, leaning all 105+ pounds of himself into my legs, body-checking Charlie if he was encroaching on his territory. (That’d be me…Nim is a momma’s boy through and through.) They are always an instant mood-booster – my little furry joy creators do their job well.
Ben could hear the canine shenanigans over the phone – ears flapping, Charlie huffing, Nim playing with his favorite new squeaker toy. Ben asked me if I had plans on November 3rd. And I got really confused. I went to the calendar and turned the pages – nothing written down. And it’s a Tuesday. What would I be doing on a Tuesday? He strung it out for a little while before he revealed to me that he had made some plans for me. As an anniversary/sorry-I-won’t-be-home-for-awhile present, Ben got me tickets to see someone I’ve wanted to see in concert since I was a kid wrapping Christmas presents to my mom’s Motown record albums: Stevie Wonder. He’s only getting a few hours of sleep a night and dealing with mass chaos, but he still found a way to bring a little joy to a girl in Oklahoma. It was a much-appreciated display of kindness, and the timing of the news could not have been more perfect.
As Stevie would say, “there’s a place in the sun where there’s hope for everyone.” Even on the darker days, there’s always something to be thankful for and be hopeful for. Always.