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Coping

Last week, MacGyver called. He doesn't call often, preferring to IM rather than deal with the line at the phones or the delay when talking to us. But he had some down time and decided to call. We have our "code words" that allow him to let me know when he's due to fly and he's very good about sending text messages to my cell phone when he's made it back safely. I live for those messages.

MacGyver is a safe pilot. A cautious yet confident pilot but not a hot dog. He knows the limits not only of himself but also of his aircraft. However, 2007 has NOT been a kind year to the aviation community. So I worry. I can't help it. I try not to. I try to keep myself busy and I try to remind myself that the likelihood of anything happening to him is slim. But I still worry.

The time frame for his return came and went and I did not receive the anticipated text message. I did my best to stay calm and not panic. Our church has a Deployment Ministry group and we were due to meet that night, which was a blessing because those men and women understand my worries and don't think I'm crazy to ask for prayer requests because it's been 12 hours too long and I'm worried.

Our meeting came and went and still nothing. I dawdled around at churchas long as I could but eventually I had to go home. I drove slowly. Ifinally called a girlfriend and made her check the headlines to see ifthere had been any kind of helicopter crash that I hadn't heard about.I didn't want to turn down my street and see some kind of"official-looking car" sitting parked outside my house. I didn't wantto pee on the seat if that were the case.

She told me there was nothing in the headlines about any helicoptercrashes. So I drove home. But with a huge knot in my stomach. I stayedup as long as I could. I logged into MacGyver's e-mail account to seeif he had checked his (personal) e-mail at all. He hadn't. My worrybumped up a notch. MacGyver is the Information Management Officer forhis unit and if he's at his base, he's on-line and checks his e-mail.The fact that he hadn't checked it meant that he hadn't made it back to base yet.

Ugh.

I made myself some tea and tried to get ready for bed. I knew sleep wasgoing to prove elusive but better to try and fail then to not try atall, right? I probably would have been better off just staying up. Atleast I could have accomplished something. I tossed and turned allnight long. The cell phone was set to its highest volume and thecomputer sat next to my bed, just in case he logged on. By 4 a.m. Igave up on sleeping and got up to take a shower. But before I did, Iput my cell phone in a plastic bag and set it on the side of the tub. Iwanted to be able to hear it/read the message in case it came through.

Finally, around noon the next day he called. I have NEVER beenso happy to hear that man's voice as I was at that moment. I did mybest not to cry. Can't say it worked very well but I did my best. Seemsthey had some mechanical difficulties and got stuck at another basewhile they waited on repairs. Nothing really to worry about. But, untilthat moment, I didn't KNOW.

I am a control-freak. I can't help it. I think it borders on OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). I HAVE. TO. KNOW. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is control. I don't DO surprises. I just don't. So give me everything you know up front and let me deal with it. It's just easier for me that way.

So I watch the news. I scour the headlines on line and "google" thingsleft and right. I'm an information junkie. I think it's one of my waysof coping with a situation that is completely out of my control. Somepeople cope by NOT watching the news. That works for them and that'sgreat. Doesn't work for me. If anything should ever happen to MacGyverI want to know about it BEFORE the knock at the door happens. I havelists of people to call and things to do - just in case. I don't wantto leave anything to chance or leave any decisions unmade. To have tomake decisions at a time when I guarantee my brain would be strugglingto remind my body to breathe isn't wise.

A friend of mine lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly about 2years ago. He was not in the military but her experiences serve as a lessonfor those around her. She was not prepared (not that anyone is ever"prepared" for their loved ones to die) and that lack of preparednesssimply added to the chaos that came with his loss. I don't want to makea bad situation worse by not preparing. Again, it goes back to thecontrol issues I have.

The irony here is that, while I have no trouble watching the news andactually crave information, I cannot watch movies like "Blackhawk Down"or "The War Tapes" or "Gunner Palace" because they hit too close tohome. I never said I was rational with my coping mechanisms!

Kristi asked about other people's coping mechanisms and these are mine. Can't say they would work for anyone else but they seem to work for me.

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