12 February 2016
The Hard Goodbye
I titled this picture "The Longest Walk" on my Facebook page. This is the view of the airport parking garage as you exit the terminal - we were parked in one of the last rows. I took this picture this past weekend as my lovely little children and I walked back to our van after dropping my husband off at the airport. He departed the US for the Republic of Korea for a remote tour - one year - away from us.
The build up to this moment ebbed and flowed with anticipation, dread, anxiety, and other such emotions as we prepared for his departure. After Christmas the countdown really began. Out processing finalities picked up, a moving van actually came to pick up his stuff (talk about getting real!), and finally, he packed his suitcases and we loaded up the van and drove to the airport.
In some ways it's hard to describe the plethora of emotions, the standard roller-coaster if you will, of what I felt in the weeks and days leading up to The Day. I often felt torn between dread and denial - trying to push away the thought of Mike leaving so I could focus on the present and soak up as much time together as I could.
Denial will only get you so far. Then there's this:
The day finally arrived and we all said our goodbyes and the kids and I took that long walk.
Since then, we are trying to establish our new "normal" without Daddy around. All of the kids are having a pretty hard time dealing with the fact that Daddy won't be coming home for a really long time. It's hard for them to wrap their minds around the fact that Daddy can't just "come home on Saturday because he doesn't work Saturday" (they know he is working in Korea). What breaks my heart is Butterfly's "Why can't he just come back? Why did he have to leave?" with tears streaming and a trembling chin. Little Man hasn't cried yet - which worries me - and seems to be internalizing his emotions. Flower, who said she was "happy" in the weeks leading to Mike's departure, finally broke down the next day, at Costco, with a melt down choruses of "I miss Daddy."
And since then, a serious breakdown of discipline has occurred. Regression back to babbling, potty accidents, major disobedience (even gleeful at one point), and more has been the reality of the week - which has brought me to a not very happy place as a suddenly overwhelmed [again] mom. In the moment it's hard to remember that the reason behind these outbursts and regressions is a deep sadness and sense of loss in their little hearts and minds as they try to work out their feelings - feelings that they don't really know how to express otherwise.
As for me, well, I think I'm just still in shock. Or I've become really stoic. Or I'm still in denial. On Sunday when Butterfly came in from playing, I jumped and expected Mike to walk through the door for a second before reality came flying back to me. He won't be walking through that door anytime soon.
So we go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning and get on with our lives as best we can. Our family not whole.
Life is lived simultaneously in the present and in the future "after Christmas". We talk about the movers coming a lot, even though they won't be coming for us for another year. (We already have our follow on orders and know where we are going - unless the Air Force changes that.)
During the day, missing Mike isn't too bad - I mean, he works during the day and normally I don't even see him until he comes home from work. Nights are harder of course. And the weekend is upon me now, and that hollow feeling inside is starting to fill with anxiety at the thought that there will no whole family pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, no one (that isn't a small human) to sit next to in the pew on Sunday, holding hands. No one that takes the children outside to play at the park. I mean, I will do that, but that is something Daddy normally does . . .
Almost one whole week down, fifty two, or so, to go. . .