And I thought they were treasured memories

Afew weeks ago l read a post at SisB's site that reminded me ofsomething from my own deployment. From another commenter, I know Iwasn't the only one who experienced this and I was hoping to hear someof your stories and feelings about where the letters you send end up once a deployment ends.

BeforeSeadaddy left for his deployment we went to a craft store and boughtthree unfinished wooden boxes for us to keep our deployment letters andpostcards in. I let Seadaddy know that in addition to whatever Navy andArmy things he had, I was adding painting the boxes for both mystepdaughter and myself to his predeployment checklist. He was able towork on them, but they weren't finished and his bigger box was not evenstarted. I really just wanted to have a specific place with a Seadaddytouch to keep these things, especially since my stepdaughter wouldn'tbe around for every mail call moment at our house.Perhaps I should confessthat I knew if I was lucky my husband would feel inclined to write about as much asSarah's husband. So, in an effort to help keep myself from being abitter betty and hit him with a subtle hint the size of a sledgehammer, I set about making him a special wifeunit deploymentfolder of ocd goodness. I printed out pages of his APO address onaddress label paper. And pages of address labels of all of our familyand friends he might want to send something to. I also bought somepostcard paper. I found some online resources for coloring pages andput the image of Cinderella and other stepdaughter favorites on some ofthe postcards. Then there were some that said 'A Special Message FromDaddy/Seadaddy'. Or my personal favorite 'Greetings From . . . WhereverI Am'. Last in there were some blank cards and a notepad with some envelopes. I am prettysure he was all set to go. And that I possibly do in fact have controlissues.

I know he didn't use up all I sent with him, and exceptfor a couple address changes and forgotten ones from the first goround, I didn't need to send him anything additional. But I think this is something I'm going to repeat in the future. I saw everything Seadaddy sent to my mom still hanging up on her wall when I went out to see her a month ago. I stillgo through my box from time to time. And even more exciting, we aregetting close to the time when stepdaughter and I can go through herbox and she will be able to read her dad's words all by herself. But Seadaddy's box is rather empty. Oneday close to his starting the journey home, we were talking on thephone and he told me all nonchalantly that he had burned his mail. Iwas slightly horrified. He was insistant that there was just too muchand it would be ridiculous to bring it back or ship it back and most importantly - he hadwanted to do it. My husband was coming home. Soon. I did my best to letit go and not make disappointment lead to some kind of fight. But can Ijust say, I was hurt! He was there when we bought the boxes. We boughta bigger one for him since he would have many people writing to him.Why did we do that if he was just going to dump them in a burn bin andhave them turn to ash?! I figured there might be some that didn't makethe trip back. The classes of the brother and sister in my sister's taekwondo school might not have made the cut. But the first one I wroteafter we found out we were having a boy? The first one I sentafter Little Man was born? Some of the awesome stepdaughter drawingsshe did in cards we sent to him? These were things I imagined we wouldkeep around until they disintegrated. And as I was reading thecomment that someone else's spouse burned their expressions of love toa crisp I must have smiled with relief that I was not theonly one that had experienced this, because Seadaddy wanted to know what it was that mademe smile. So I gave him the particulars. And he says in as muchaccuracy as time allows, "I love you Jenn, but I won't ever be able tomake you understand. I needed to do that. It meant it was over. Therewas so much stuff and going through some of the things as I threw themin and remembering what they said and being able to know I was rereading them for the lasttime, I needed that. I can't ever make you understand."But thetruth is as soon as he said it, I really did understand. He had justnever said it that way. It doesn't make me wish any less for his box tohave more in it than it does. But I truly do understand. I am glad hegot that moment to bring himself closure and assurance his deploymentwas over. And I am so glad he found a way to let me visualize whateverything all of us sent meant to him. I like that I can see him with a big box, going over things one last time before adding it to the flames. Plus it reminds me of the story he told me of a different visit to the burn bin and someone else's unopened can of potted meat loudly exploding and flying out of the bin past his head. He told me he got a bunch of dirty looks from people in the area once they figured out it came from him and how he resisted the urge to go up to everyone and convince them it wasn't his master plan to make a loud boom on base and he was smarter than that. I can *so* picture him all mad at the injustice of it all. But at the same time knowing he had a great way to make his wife smile during the next phone call. So, what happens with your letters and cards once a deployment ends? Does your spouse have a special place for them in your house or do they get left behind before the journey home? I saw Toad is with me on the subtle as a sledgehammer assistance, but does anyone else give their spouse a little help with writing supplies?

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