Almost five years ago, I married the most wonderful person. Looking back, and looking forward, I am certain it was the best decision I ever made.
At the time of our courtship, he was in medical school. And he had committed to finance it with a scholarship from the Army that entailed residency at the Army hospital in Hawaii (3 years), and four years of “service” at a station “of our choice” after that. Going to war? He was led to believe, was more of a choice for doctors. And, of course we assumed this war would be over by now ..
Over the course of residency and now in the service years, we’ve seen one Army doctor friend of ours after another head off to war without any choice in the matter.
As of one week ago today, while living at the station “of our choice,” like a punch in the stomach, I got the news I’ve been dreading for years:
My husband may be headed to war. He is slated for a six month deployment to a combat support hospital (tent village in a green zone with daily communication access) in Iraq (safer than Afghanistan, but still a war zone) starting “around August.”
This is what I’ve been told:
Maybe he will be leaving in August.
Maybe he will be leaving in September.
Maybe there will be pre-deployment training mid summer. Maybe the training may require him to be gone for a week. Or maybe more. Maybe less. Maybe the training will be in route to the deployment, which may mean he departs from us earlier. Maybe a few days earlier, maybe more.
Maybe, like the previous two identical assignments given to his co-workers in Fairbanks, the entire thing will be cancelled. One was cancelled as the guy got to the airport to get on the plane headed to Baghdad.
If he does head to Iraq, then he may be back to work in Alaska by February 2012.
Or, maybe with political promises of all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of the year; he may be back by December 2011. Maybe.
If he goes on this one, then he most likely will not be tasked with another one before we are out of this army thing (Come on, October of 2013).
If it is cancelled, his name may go to the top of the list for the next deployment.
If he does not go on this one, but gets another one, the other one may be longer, or it may be to a more dangerous location.
Or, maybe he won’t get another assignment at all.
Maybe I just threw up.
Certainly: I have a pit in my stomach.
Summer vacations and house visitor plans; fall preschool registrations; housing and car arrangements; a writer’s retreat I was so looking forward to in the Fall; storage units, wills, and power of attorney to-do-lists; fears of being able to be a single mom in Mitch’s absence, the sheer terror and uncertainty of having my husband in a war zone … paralyzed.
This is no way to live.
Kind of hard planning a life around “ifs.”
Have I ever told you I don’t believe in war?
Five years ago, I never really imagined this would be part of the package. It is not easy to swallow. I’m terrified of what the near future may, or may not, bring.
And, still, five years ago, I think I made the best decision I ever made. I’m trying to frame this completely paralyzing and terrifying event within the entirety of my life, our marriage, and our family’s experiences. I’m trying hard to see this as a blip in the span of time.
And now, more than ever, I appreciate your support.
Que Sera, Sera …