While we hear every day about men and women killed or injured in action in Iraq, we dont hear much about those who survive each anxiety-filled day. We hear even less about the families and friends left behind by our deployed troops.
I was alone last night, just as I am alone right now, because my husband is one of those. He is a United States Marine deployed in Iraq. He has been overseas since September. In honor of all the families and friends left behind by US service members, Id like to take this opportunity to give the rest of America a glimpse at my daily life and what my family has given up for our noble cause in Iraq.
My husband and I met almost three years ago. I had just gotten over a bad breakup and he had just come back from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was (and still is) a complete goofballa karaoke addict and the kind of guy who would really try the old havent I seen you somewhere before? line. We fell in love. He proposed to me on Christmas Eve 2004. We got married in May of 2005two months before the big wedding we had planned for months because he found out in April that he would be leaving for California to prepare for a deployment to Iraq in June.
And there was our daughter, Emily. She was just one year old when my husband found out he was being deployed. In April, she will be two. She was just beginning to walk when we got married, and now she sleeps in a real bed and begs to watch her Elmo video. In the beginning, she mastered the words, Wheres Daddy? Now she has to be reminded that she has one
Every day, I wake up and get Emily out of her bedroom and change her and feed her breakfast. I wander through our apartment making coffee and refilling sippy-cups and picking up animal crackers off of the floor and taking showers and giving baths and it all feels empty. I try to enjoy going out with friends, but every time a cute young couple gets up on stage to sing an off-key rendition of The Grease Megamix I have to go outside and cry. Its impossible for me to enjoy any of the things we used to do together. Even eating dinner becomes a chore when you have to do it alone.
Every day is a battle between knowing I have to get through the day, for myself and for my child, and wanting to just sit down and cry. Every night is a desperate fight for sleep that wont come. If you have never gone through this, you might think I am being self-indulgent, but if you have, then you know I am telling the truth.
We see our service members as heroesthose who stand and fight when the rest of us are sitting comfortable at our dinner tables and desks. What we often dont see are the heroes they leave behindwives and children and mothers and fathers who struggle every single day with a sense of loss, unable to articulate their feelings.