Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Day 1 of our new lives
It's official-- as of today, Brandon is Active Duty and I have joined the ranks of military wives missing their husbands.
The last few days have been a whirlwind. Each day started at 4:30 AM, when Brandon would get up and run while it was still nice and cool outside. We've been used to great temperatures in Kansas City, but it's been in the nineties here in Arkansas! Good preparation for the south, I guess.
On top of PT, we've had to gather all of Brandon's gear and get him ready for training. Between us and my Mom, we've spent at least six hours decabling his uniforms (cutting off every tiny loose thread). We were idiots and decabled them before washing them for the first time. When I pulled them out of the dryer, there were loose threads everywhere! So Mom and I went back over them with a fine tooth comb. I was determined that Brandon would not get in trouble at inspection!
Every day was so packed with errands and work that we really didn't have any time to just relax and connect. We tried to watch a movie together, but could only make it through about 15 minutes each night before we fell asleep. We still haven't made it to the end.
So yesterday we decided to take things a little slower. We slept in (only until 6-- still hours earlier than we normally get up!) and spent the morning just hanging out at the house. We drove out to the cemetery and put a flag on his grandfather's grave. His grandfather was a Navy veteran, and we wanted to honor him for Memorial Day. He and Brandon were very close. He is the reason Brandon became a nurse, and I know he would be very proud of Brandon's choice to serve in the Air Force.
We also visited Brandon's grandmothers. "Grandma" told us stories of being a Navy wife. . . how they lived in Rhode Island and drove through New York City at night just to "see the city that never sleeps". . . how they visited D.C. and she and her Navy wife best friend splashed barefoot in the fountain in front of a memorial. . . how she and the other wives stuck together while the husbands were on duty. . . how she experienced her first hurricane while Brandon's Grandpa was away on a ship. As she told her stories, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between them and us. I thought about the cities Brandon and I have driven through just to say that we did, the silly pictures we took in Washington D.C., and the blizzards I survived on my own while Brandon was stuck at hospitals in Montana and Pennsylvania. Maybe I'm cut out to be a military wife after all.
We went on a "dinner date" to our favorite restaurant, came home and double checked all of Brandon's bags, and went to bed early so that he could get up before daylight and hit the road.
This isn't the first time we've been separated, but it is a much longer separation than we are used to-- 3x longer than our longest, and 10x longer than our norm. I know it's absolutely nothing compared to what most military wives go through, and even compared to what we will go through in the future. But even though it's just a little blip in the long run, it's hard. We're best friends, and we are used to doing everything together-- especially after travel nursing, when we've pretty much only had each other for three years.
I wanted to have a really romantic morning together before he left. I decided to serve pumpkin pancakes with real maple syrup, coffee, juice, fruit, and scrambled eggs for breakfast. That was a bad idea, because I ended up stuck in the kitchen when I really wanted to be hanging out with him. Plus, I had never made pumpkin pancakes before, and they ended up burned on the outside and raw in the middle. Not romantic at all.
Our goodbye wasn't very romantic either. Ralph, our dog, has separation anxiety, and while he is doing really well overall, he could tell that this was a major separation. When Brandon and I started saying our "see you laters", Ralph went crazy. So instead of sweetly telling Brandon that I loved him and couldn't wait to see him at his graduation, I was yelling at Ralph to be quiet and swatting him away from our feet. Just when things couldn't get any worse, a bee started swarming us. I am terrified of bees, so that pretty much ruined it.
When Brandon left and I locked the door behind him, it hit me that he wasn't going to be home in a few hours. So I ran out to the car, gave him one more big hug, and waved a little American flag as he drove away. I did it to be silly and corny, but as his car disappeared from sight, I noticed that I was clutching the flag a little tighter to my heart. It was meaningful to me. I know that Brandon is going to "do his duty." It's not a deployment and it's not for long, but he is still going with a great purpose-- to train so that he can serve our country in the Air Force.
I am so proud of him, and proud to be his wife.