Monday, December 27, 2010, was a day (of very few in the past) that I thought my husband had died.
My husband is currently deployed for the fourth time since 1998, and is stationed in Iraq. He lives and works in the Anbar Province Directorate building in Ramadi. This building houses the police department to which he is a military advisor. He has been in the Army for twenty-one years.
Being an Air Force veteran with my own tours of war, I know that news is often wrong, delayed, and incomplete. I took what I knew with a grain of salt. I couldn’t be typical in this, and I couldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture—rest and relaxation in March 2011.
Monday started for me waking up to my 5:30 a.m. radio show on NPR. Within five minutes I had my head buried in the pillows as I listened to “two suicide bombers,” “Anbar Province,” and “forty police officers dead” (only assuming those were Iraqi police officers, but not confirmed) come in over the airwaves.
I didn’t indulge my emotions, and maintained balance and focus on preparing for my own day ahead as the executive director of a local nonprofit organization. I couldn’t be impacted by this so much that I couldn’t work or be there for my staff. At work, my distraction manifested itself through searches for videos and/or all stories related to that morning’s incident. I don’t usually receive an email from my husband until noon my time, so I didn’t worry about that.
Then my mom emailed me: “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME THAT HE’S OK!?!?!?” Her email commanded me in freaked-out capital letters, as if I was able to tell her something through my direct line and/or crystal ball. I wrote, “Settle down, Nervous Nellie,” and went off on my day.
I didn’t receive an email at noon as expected, but that didn’t worry me. The satellite gods that direct Internet communications had a way of FUBAR-ing any sense of connectivity on their own whims. We have a standing 8:45 p.m. phone call each night. But that didn’t come—still no worries. I remembered back to being engaged to a fired up paratrooper, whose sense of accomplishment was jumping out of a C130. As an airman, I thought this was a woefully wasteful of a good aircraft. His entanglement with a sergeant on a night jump was much more worrisome than this.
Instead, I woke up the next day at 5 a.m. to an email reading: “SORRY BABY!” He wrote, “Busy today as you probably know … more tonight.”
In that night’s discussion, I went through my day first. We rarely talk about his day because one, its not appropriate to do so over unsecure lines, and two, he doesn’t want to talk about what he’s endured. In covert words I’d ask, “So if you could have thrown a softball, would it land where it happened?”
“Yes, closer,” he would say (as this wasn’t the first or last time the Anbar Province Directorate would be attacked).
Today, I simply asked ‘What I saw on TV … Is it true?”
“Yeah, but when it happened I was Skyping with Jean-Claude Van Damme. He is so cool!” He gushed.
So there goes love and war.