Not too long ago I wrote a post about waiting for JD's upcoming deployment to begin. Well, we are officially counting down the days. Today he was packing his bags and I realized that we are just under the two week mark. I thought I was ready for this. I was wrong.
This will be JD's second major deployment and I have to say that I handled the first one rather magnificently. I had a couple of crying jags during the almost 12 months that he was gone, but I was working 20-40 hours per week and raising three kids on my own and that was to be expected. We had little communication during the majority of his deployment, but I really don't remember being overly worried about his safety. Maybe it's because he was always so good at putting my mind at ease in his letters, IM's, and emails, I don't know, but I don't recall dwelling on him being injured or dying.
Even when they were waiting in Kuwait and diving into bunkers because they thought they were being bombed with chemical weapons, I don't remember thinking horrible thoughts. Not even when they were crossing the Iraqi border and barrelling up to Baghdad. Maybe because he was doing what he was trained to do. He and his platoon were towing, emplacing, and firing their howitzers; something they'd done a hundred times before. Then, after staying in Baghdad for a month or so, his battery headed up to Tal Afar. They were on convoys everyday between Tal Afar and the Syrian and Turkish borders. Yeah, there were IED's, but not like there are today. At that time they were still rather crude and he always said if there was a small group of Iraqis standing around in an area and no one else was around, they knew to be careful.
It's not like that anymore. The media is now referring to what's going on in and around Baghdad as civil war. I remember JD comparing it to the Wild West back then and him being more than happy to get out of there when he did. Somehow, the Wild West sounds more palpable than a civil war. The insurgents are now experts at planting IED's and soldiers are being injured or killed by them nearly everyday.
I've been looking for reassurance from JD lately. Reassurance that he will be "safer" because he won't be running convoys this time around. This time, at least initially, he will be working in the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) and staying at a large FOB, not some old prison out in the middle of nowhere. These two facts make me feel better, but they don't put my mind at ease.
I really thought I was "okay" with this deployment, but as it draws near, I realize that I'm not. I find myself worrying about him being injured or killed. I find myself wanting to record our lives more frequently. I've pulled the camcorder out of semi-retirement and been snapping photos like crazy. I made sure we had a family portrait taken. It was time anyway (we hadn't taken one in six years!), but this upcoming deployment made it feel necessary.
I worry about the kids this time, too. Although, as far as I can tell, it hasn't hit them yet. When he left last time MD was just turning six, MC was four, ME was two and a half, and MS wasn't yet conceived. They really didn't know what was going on. They knew Daddy was in Iraq and "fighting the bad guys", but I don't think they ever thought that he may not come home. However, they are older now and they do sometimes watch parts of the news with me. They'll hear something about a soldier and ask what happened; they are more curious now. I don't want them worrying about their dad's safety. His being gone will be hard enough.
As I type this, I realize that there are many (too many) of you out there preparing for and living through the exact same thing. I know that I am not alone. I also know that I'll make it through this just fine and life will go on. I always do and it always does, but still, knowing these things doesn't make it any easier to let him go.