Today I hung curtains by myself. I lined up the curtain rod, screwed in four different screws with a plain jane screw driver, and hung my new curtains. The pride I felt after such task was completed was both rewarding and a bit sad. I suppose it isn’t that difficult to do. I guess people do it all the time, when they live alone and there is no one else to rely on. But for me? Hanging up curtains would fall under things I’d ask Travis to do for me.
But Travis isn’t here.
We packed up his sea bag for the very first time in his four year military career, and sent him off to meet his ship somewhere out at sea. So that’s where he is… somewhere, doing something, while I’m here hanging curtains. Before you go and feel bad for me, it isn’t going to be too long before he’s scheduled to come back home. In fact, he’s supposed to be home by Christmas. Still, I can’t help but feel like this minor accomplishment on the front of independence is a grave foreshadowing of the year to come and the nine month deployment we’ll be saying hello to in February. This isn’t the first time I’ve been without my sailor. It’s not even the first curtain I’ve hung. It’s a mere representation of all that is to follow. Somewhere along the line, doing things by myself, for myself and my daughter, is going to start to feel normal. Familiar. Expected. The closer we get to the big deployment, the more brave I oddly feel. It isn’t that there is any part of my being that won’t miss him. It isn’t that I’m under the impression that it’ll be easy or that it’ll go by quickly. It’s the sort of feeling I embodied before giving birth, like I was being presented with a personal challenge.
I can either accept the challenge and try to beat it still standing at the end. Or I can protest it, fight it, whine about it and yet still have to endure it. I can either control how I handle deployment, or I can let it control me. The latter doesn’t sound all that appealing when I think about all the stories I’ve heard and personal experiences I’ve been a part of. There is going to be nothing pretty about this crazy ride we will inevitably embark on…but there’s nothing to be done about it either. Despite my feelings on the matter, this upcoming nine month deployment will be nine months of my life that I will never get back again. Nine months of my daughter’s third year of life that we will never get to re-live. Next year is going to be one of the most difficult years of our lives, but it’s still going to be a year in our life.
Do you get the significance in that?
How can I just curl up and allow it to run me over, to take what it will from me, and give me nothing to grow with and grow from? How could I hand over my daughter’s memories to the insatiable need of the Navy, and act as though I didn’t want them anyway? How could I live with myself if I chose not to live for an entire year of an already too short lifetime? These just aren’t options for me. Not only do I want to give Raegan a wonderful childhood full of happy, lasting memories…I want to give her a role model, someone she can look up to as a vision of strength and determination. I want her to see her mother as someone who is capable of facing life’s difficulties, and not only facing them, but using them to her own advantage. I don’t want Raegan to remember any part of these inevitable separations as a time of darkness or depression or despair. Though it will be tough, and though I will probably spend my fair share of time clenching my jaws, crying my tears, hanging my head…I want to beat deployment. I do not want deployment to beat me.
Today is the beginning of the beginning of the most difficult year of our lives to date. And today, I hung curtains…
Upcoming deployment- zero