+Tuesday, October 25, 2005+
Well, after a month or so at an FOB, Matt is now safe and sound back at Kandahar (err, "safe and sound," all things considered); the specifics of his trip home were a little hair-raising, and while I'm not sure I'm at liberty to divulge the details (I'm still figuring out the whole OPSEC thing, so better safe than sorry), I'll simply say I was praising God for keeping Matt safe. I worked myself into quite a bit of a frenzy over it, but there's not much you can do about something after the fact, so I've tried not to worry myself with it too much and just thank God that He took care of my love.

During his time at the FOB, we got to talk a lot more often - the phone systems are set up differently and there's a lot less people at FOBs, so typically we talked every night, and it was so wonderful. Now that he's back at Kandahar, we're back to our two to three calls a week routine, and while it's a little sad getting used to minimal phone calls again, I can't complain too much; since we decided not to talk every day during the deployment, having a month where we got to made it that much more special. In some weird way, it really was like a "second leave," going home every night and knowing I'd get to talk to Matt. Now we're back to the "norm," and we're so close to the end, my head is spinning. That figurative light at the end of the tunnel is in clear view - 4 measely months!!

Of course, I'm told it'll get harder before it gets easier. I preordered the "Friends" DVD box set - it's not released until November 15 - so now I have that to look forward to, and when it arrives, why, I can become a "Friends" zombie all over again and will most likely have every single episode watched by the time Matt gets home. I also have the holidays to look forward to, and before I know it, it'll be 2006 - 2 months left, I think that's when it'll start to get hard. I was talking with Christy today about different methods of counting down a deployment, and I've found the one that's been most effective for me has been counting down in series of small, yet significant events.

I know, I know. Gosh, Erika, how hard can counting down be - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - but when you're waiting for something that's so far away, it is truly mind-numbing to think about how many days lay between where you're currently at and when that thing you're waiting for will take place. You never really take into consideration just how damn long 365+ days is until you live every single one for the sole purpose of getting it over with, so it's helpful to countdown in ways that give the illusion of "less time." For example, seasons - Matt left last winter and will be returning this winter, so saying he'll be gone for 4 seasons sounds a lot better than 430-some days. Being that I'm in school, I've also used semesters as a countdown method - there's only 2 and a half of those I'll have had to go through without Matt.

But of all the different countdown methods thought up and implemented by military wives world wide, my personal favorite is counting down via events that take place. "Events" can be anything as small as the release of a CD from a band you particularly like (I had marks on my calendar counting down to the release of Depeche Mode's new CD last Tuesday), a weekly sitcom you're particularly fond of, awaiting a package (like - ahem - my "Friends" DVDs LOL) or as big as something like a wedding or a birth. As long as you have something in the near future to look forward to, the distant future doesn't seem so painfully far away. It's important in a deployment to remember that even though you're half of a whole, you're still an individual, and while it's virtually impossible to simply "forget" that you're living every day to an ultimate goal - your spouse/significant other coming home - it's good not to forget yourself in the whole ordeal and not drive yourself crazy obsessing over the end. Regardless of how devastated you may be of the year or so you have to spend without your sidekick, it is still a year of your life and you must treat it as such! After a while you'll just naturally fall into the role and all the people at the post office will know you by name (or by your soldier's name anyway). :) That's my advice for the day....LOL.

Last weekend I drove a couple hours out of town to visit my maid of honor who lives in a little town called Winnemucca. Honestly, I was quite a bit begrudged about going - I've had something to do every weekend this month and haven't had a single one to myself, and I was actually looking on this weekend as more of a chore than an enjoyable weekend with my best friend. Nonetheless, I went and ended up having a really great time; it was extremely relaxing and gave me the opportunity to allow myself to forget about the nit-picky details of every day life. It's funny to me how something I really didn't feel like doing proved to be incredibly therapeutic.

The weekend prior - that of the 15th - I flew down to Arizona with my parents for the wedding of a family friend, and that was a good time as well. I got to see my brother and his wife (whom I've seen a lot more of this year than I usually do in a year, and I'm so glad of that - I just love my brother and his wife!), and a lot of other people I haven't seen for what feels like ages. I cried and cried and cried throughout the wedding - all around me were happy couples, including but not limited to the newly weds, and it made my heart ache for Matt in a way I thought I'd trained myself to suppress rather well. When they played "our" song during the reception - Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting," the song that will be our first dance at our wedding - I lost it. I tried to be eloquent with my tears, but by the end of the night, my mom was basically following me around with a box of tissues while I insisted through constrained sobs that I was fine.

The feeling of missing Matt is so common its presence is now just a part of my daily life - I have become numb throughout the deployment because I've had to to be strong and retain my composure - but every now and then I still cry. One emotion I haven't become numb to is that of how much I love Matt. When you find a great love, nothing can make you forget how it makes you feel, and distance and time only add kindling to the flame. I cry because I love him and he's not here - there's a year full of memories, of things that happened that I wasn't able to run right home and share with him, and it hurts, but if nothing else, it truly has shown me how unconditional our love for each other is. I don't love him because I need him; I need him because I love him.

wishing matt was here @ 2:48 PM+

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