I had to put the book down, to catch my breath. Not just catch my breath, but remind myself to breathe at all. My ending is different from the author’s and the reality of the difference is just too much for me.
It’s been a good read. “Dinner With the Smiley’s”. A woman and her young boys dealing with the year-long deployment of her Navy husband, and the inventive way they dealt with his absence. The end, where he comes home, where they greet him, is what is too much for me. Because he comes home. I know that joy they felt as they welcomed him at the airport, having him safely back with them again.
The reality of Handsome Husband never coming home to me again is a stark and vicious stab into every part of me. A pick-axe flailing madly into me, like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I’m Jennifer Leigh, in the shower scene. A movie, by the way, which I’ve never cared to see, but who doesn’t know about the movie or that particular scene?
In our early days together, when Handsome Husband was active duty, he was away a lot. As in, weeks out of every month. Sometimes I’d know where he was going, most often I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t know how long he would be gone, or when he’d be back. I don’t know how I managed those times. I just did.
Is that how I’ll look back on this time, this year of his being gone, this life of his being gone? Will I be able to look back and know that I just did, in spite of the fact that I know that this is a time of never returning? Tell me, how does a person do this? How does a woman continue to care about living, when her very heart has been ripped from her chest? Not only been ripped from her chest while she is still alive, but watches as her heart is then attacked with a sharp-edged axe, and bludgeoned into a bloody mess on the floor in front of her.
Yes, that’s how it feels.
I remember once, when Handsome Husband was due to return from a TDY, he left a message on our answering machine, telling me that he hoped to be able to meet me that evening at a regular meeting that we both attended. I quickly found a babysitter for our kids, and fairly flew to the meeting. He hadn’t been 100% about being there, but I knew that if it was humanly possible for him to be there, he would. Because that’s how he was. He made things happen.
I listened to the speaker and heard nothing of what he said, at that meeting. I sat there with my eyes glued to the door, waiting, all my senses heightened, just waiting, just knowing, that the man I loved more than anything else, was going to walk through that door and my world would be alright again.
What amazing self-control I employed when, yes, he did walk through the doors! It was in the middle of the meeting, someone was speaking, so he came in very quietly. I knew, my body knew, as the outside door was opening, that it was Handsome Husband. The adrenalin picked up speed and my heart knew he was there even before the door opened. It was all I could do to not leap from my chair and catapult across the table, stepping over the speaker, to leap into his arms, to feel him wrap himself around me, to lose myself in the warmth of his embrace and his love. But I’m courteous and polite and I waited the 10 minutes until the break to do just that. There has never been a better feeling. I belonged in his arms. His arms belonged around me.
I can’t, and won’t, sit here and tell anyone that any of this pain of grief has diminished. That, no, I’m not finding a measure of peace, or of acceptance, that my husband is forever gone. I feel no peace about it whatsoever. In some ways, the pain is only more intense as time goes by, because, with time, comes the continual recognition that this is my new forever, and I can’t stand the thought of forever. My brain struggles with even computing the word forever.
I wish, I wish, I wish, that he was deployed, that there would be an end-game in sight for him, for me, for us. I find myself begging him, begging the Universe, begging whatever powers that be, for him to be returned to me, knowing all the while that such a thing is impossible. But the abject pain won’t allow me to not say it. Sometimes that’s all I can say. Please. Just please. Return him to me. Don’t let this be forever. I’ll bear up as I must, if he’ll only come back. I can do this for a year, if I must. I swear I can. If only I knew that, at the end of that time, I could leap across space to be in his arms again. If I could put my arms around him and inhale his scent. If I could be in his arms and feel safe again.
I beg of you.
Come back to me.