I'm not good at them. I would really rather just walk away with fond memories than say good-bye to anyone. But this one was not one I could walk away from. So I made a vow to myself that I wouldn't cry. I wouldn't drive away blubbering over the inevitable, as crying would only make me feel weak and helpless. What I need to feel is strong.
All day, I did so well. I almost lost it when sweet Melanie started crying on the phone on my behalf, but I swallowed the lump, as I had been doing all day, and stayed brave.
We took Andrew to base to drop him off. We came upon the sea of khaki, and it still didn't feel real. Would I really walk away without him? Was he really staying and we were leaving? How strange. We hung around for a while, but it would be another 4 hours until the plane actually took off. I knew the kids wouldn't last that long, and I just wanted to get it over with. So after about 40 minutes, we headed back to the car to say good-bye. Andrew buckled the kids in the carseat, and I watched as he said goodbye to both of them. Then, it was my turn. I hugged him and tried to be brave. He told me to be strong, and he knew I could do it. I had a few tears, but I decided that was okay. I tried to hold my quivering lip still as I climbed in the car, kissed him one last time, and watched him walk away.
Eva lost it. She cried and yelled, "I want Daddy!" Of course, I couldn't hold back against the emotion that ripped at my heart. I started bawling. And I drove away. Not 30 seconds later, I realized I had left Eva's headband sitting on Andrew's bag. At that exact moment, my phone rang - he was calling to tell me he would meet me in the parking lot to give it back. Apparently he didn't want to take a black velvet headband to Kawait with him. I turned around to see him one last time, took the headband, told him I would miss him, and turned for home.
I allowed myself a minute or two of crying. As I turned on Baby Einstein (Eva was crying for the caterpillar), I said allowed through tears, "Lord, give me strength." And He did. By the time I got to the front gate and off-base, I felt peaceful and calm.
Pulling in the garage was strange. For some reason it reminded me of when we came home from the hospital with both our babies. It's the feeling like, "Here goes our new life with this new extra person." But tonight, it was like, "Here goes our new life with my other half missing."
Thankfully, he is still sitting where we left him, so we've been able to talk on the phone. That has made a big difference in my adjusting to our new permanent condition. As I head off to bed for the first of 131 (ish) lonely nights, I feel...I don't know. I don't know a word to describe my emotion. I feel strongly that I can no longer think about this in terms of the big picture - the whole 4 months apart. Rather, I'm just going to take it one day at a time. So cliche, but so necessary for my sanity. I feel so grateful to be the one with the kids. Even though I may feel lonely, at least I will NEVER truly be alone. Andrew, wherever you are by the time you read this, I miss you. But I'm going to be strong. I love you a million. Here we go.