+Tuesday, July 19, 2005+
I miss Matt. I realize this isn't much of a news flash or anything, but after months of subduing my pain to a numb ache, the feeling has recently made itself more prominent once again. With registering and a bridal shower right around the corner and the wedding nearly a year away (and therefore more acceptable to start planning for), I'm constantly reminded that I am so very very much alone during this time. My mom and sisters-in-law and girlfriends all chuckle at me and say the same thing: "Oh, the groom never takes part in the planning anyway," but I find this comment extremely irrelevant. Despite how much he decides to participate in the planning, other brides at least have the luxury of having their fiance near. It's easy to overlook small things the groom does take part in - like registering and perhaps cake tasting - until you have to do that stuff alone, until you can't go home and ask for even a little bit of input. I'd rather have Matt home on the couch grumbling, "I don't care. I really don't care" than half a world away and unable to take part even in the customary groom grumbles.

Last Tuesday I went with my mom to register for a few necessities that I want at my bridal shower (I gotta add here, I'm absolutely smitten to be able to say my bridal shower...hehehe. Being a bride-to-be is good fun!). I didn't register for anything along the lines of dishes, pots, pans as I'm quite sure those are things I can do without until the actual wedding. My current project right now is transforming Matt's bachelor pad into a married couple's abode and what I really wanted to do was simply ask for money at my bridal shower and put that money into my house redecoration project. My mom, however, informed me that this is "bad etiquette" so instead I registered for everything I need to redecorate: frames, cute and colorful vases, bathroom decor, a couple accent tables, sheets for the guest bed, lots and lots of throw pillows, etc.

From the get-go my mom had been very adamant about us registering together. It was to be one of those feel-good mother-daughter bonding experiences, but what it actually turned out to be was my mom disappearing for long intervals to look at stuff she wanted, leaving me and my scanner alone to beep bar codes in a sea of happy couples. AHHH!!! The feeling of loneliness returned full force and settled in for the long run; registering alone surrounded by happy smiling couples registering together hit me like an oncoming freight train and I wanted nothing more than to find a nice cozy hole to curl up in, away from this constant reminder of how alone I am and how emotionally draining this deployment really is. Since no holes were readily accessible, I did the next best thing and went home and cried. And cried and cried. I cried and cursed the army and just felt all around sorry for myself.

Luckily my "poor me" phase subsided rather quickly, but it left behind the feeling of an egregious void inside of me. Matt is really far away. I, of course, never forgot this important fact, I just never went through the trouble of constantly reminding myself; it hurt to fathom the distance between us and my way of coping was to just avoid doing so. We are on complete opposite sides of the world - if I were the north pole, he'd be the south. My Tuesday night is his Wednesday morning. We are just a half hour shy of being separated by exactly 12 hours. The distance, the danger, the consistent absence of Matt from my life have all played a part in the loneliness that seems to constantly follow me wherever I go, and now with wedding planning in our midsts, I feel like I have to be stronger than ever - already I feel I might crumble and all I've done so far is registered and received an invitaiton to my bridal shower.

Seeing Matt's parents this past weekend really helped. Seeing Matt's parents is always most therapeutic because not only am I among other people who are missing someone, we're missing the same someone. On Friday they took me out to dinner and then made the 20 minute drive outside of town with me to pick up a coffee table my friend was giving me, a small addition to my vision of the "perfect" living room. I received great joy in discarding the Bachelor Plank (the sad excuse of a surface with legs we previously referred to as our coffee table). The new coffee table is enormous and elegant - beautiful curved wood legs, two large squares of tinted glass that sit on top of an otherwise wood surface with a border underneath the surface of bronzed leaves. My description does it little justice - I'll have to take a picture of it which I'll add to this post later this evening so you can check back if you care to see it. Matt's mom loved the coffee table. I think she shares my joy of ridding the house of the days when no one but dirty guys lived there, and I have to say, if I did nothing more to the house as far as decorating, it would look ten times better just because of this new coffee table. My head's still spinning that I got something so magnificent for FREE (Thanks Ky!!!).

On Saturday I went shopping with Matt's mom who told me she wanted to buy me a new outfit for my bridal shower, but instead got me not only a new outfit, but 4 new candle holders, a bunch of new candles, a new pair of earrings, and a fuzzy pair of socks that are entirely pointless in the heat of the summer but are undoubtedly the softest things ever and that I have been wearing despite our 105 degree weather because they're so soft. I kept insisting that she didn't have to buy all this stuff for me, that I was more than willing to buy all this home decor stuff with money from my own pocket, but his mom would hear none of it. When I talked to Matt that night (it was actually more like 3 a.m.), I told him that I'm apparently incapable of saying no to his mom.

Today I was able to add another important piece to my redecorating - the new entertainment center that's been taunting me for about a month now but that I've been holding off on buying until I was sure it wouldn't be a frivolous purchase. If I thought the Bachelor Plank was a monstrosity, our current entertainment center is about 425,892 times worse. However, any doubts I had about purchasing the new center were put to rest with my horoscope today: "While you hate to waste money on frivolous things, your home is a major exception. A comfortable, tranquil escape from the world is not too much to ask for someone who gives as much of themselves as you do. Indulge." So I went ahead and finally bought the damn thing (I don't normally follow my horoscope, but this was just too blatantly relevant to ignore). I can't wait to get it - putting it together is half the fun!! It'll be arriving just in time for my bridal shower so I can do some bulk decorating the second week in August after I reap the benefits of my registries.

Apart from being officially dubbed my "busy month" (because of full-force redecorating, wedding planning, and the start of school), August is even moreso significant because it's the half way point. August 5 (the date of our wedding next year, oddly enough) marks 7 months Matt has been deployed, and while I can't put an exact date on the "middle" of the deployment, August marks 7 months down and 7 to go. That's right, folks - in about 2 weeks (give or take), we will be half way through this separation nightmare!! The unit that will be replacing Matt's has already been alerted for deployment to Afghanistan. It reminds me of when we first found out Matt's unit was going to be deployed; it's been nearly a year since then and makes me so glad that I have such a hefty portion of this deployment under my belt. I don't remember exactly how I felt when we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Matt would be deploying; we didn't know when and we didn't know where, we just knew, and despite having the facts laid out in front of me, it wasn't until January 5 when I was in Matt's pick up tearing after a charter bus full of soldiers down an empty early morning freeway that I realized this was going to happen regardless of how badly I did not want it to.

There's a lot of solace in knowing there's already a unit alerted to relieve Matt's unit - while it doesn't completely eliminate the possibility of an extension, it certainly makes it seem a lot less likely. Somewhere right now there's a handful of girls feeling the exact same confusing emotions I was dealing with around this time last year when we received word that the unit was under alert for deployment. There's a handful of girls who won't really be able to fully accept it until their husband/boyfriend/fiance is already gone, and who will, half way through their time, think to themselves, Wow! I've made it half way through and it really wasn't as excruciatingly horrible as I imagined it would be. It feels weird to be on the side of the deployment where I'm offering condolences to girls (and guys!) just starting off what they no doubt imagine as a long and lonely year (and there's many times it IS a long and lonely year, but there's also many times it's not), but I'm also very much still on the receiving end of advice - it surprises me how often I still need to hear "It'll go by fast. Before you know it, he'll be home."

To the spouses of the unit that will be relieving Matt's next year in Afghanistan and to all the spouses who are just beginning The Deployment Adventure, I offer you this (regardless of how much you won't believe it and how little help you'll find in it at this point): It'll go by fast. Before you know it, they'll be home.

wishing matt was here @ 2:31 PM+

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