+Tuesday, December 27, 2005+
Christmas was good. Not great, mind you (it certainly could've been made a thousand times better by the presence of Matt), but all things considered, it was good.

I woke up this morning with a vaguely familiar feeling weighing down on my chest and suddenly felt like having a good long cry. Can it be possible that I still have 2 more months to go without Matt? It just seems so unfair. Apart from pictures and home videos, it's been nearly 7 months since I've seen his face. Seven months since I felt his arms around me, was able to kiss him, cuddle up and watch a movie with him, come home to him after a long day at work. I miss him so much and this morning when I woke up, I felt different, like I'd reached a point where I was physically exhausted from waiting, from missing him. I love Matt with an ardor I never knew possible; when my friends say they feel badly for me because I've had to endure all this time without Matt, I think it's actually I who should feel bad for them because they don't know what it's like to have a love that's worth waiting over a year for. I've reached a brick wall in this deployment, and I'm just sick and tired of everything. I'm tired of talking about the deployment, I'm sick of doing things that remind me that regardless of how bright that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel may be becoming, it's still not a train screaching to a stop at the station. 60-some days is nothing compared to what I've thusfar endured, but when I woke up this morning and felt what I felt, it suddenly dawned on me what all the military wives before me meant when they said the end is the hardest.

I don't want to write him anymore, I don't want to talk to him on the phone to hear his voice from a far away place; I don't want to carefully pack the usual items in my biweekly care packages for him, and I think I may slug the next person who asks me if the year has gone by fast. I don't know if the year has gone by fast - the answer I feel now is NO because the freaking year STILL isn't over, and come next Thursday when it IS, I still have about 2 months left to go. From January 5, 2005 to January 5, 2006, I've seen Matt a total of 19 days. For what will be 14 months away from him, I haven't even had a full month WITH him. I'm so very tired; I don't want to do anything - I just want MATT. I'm going to be taking a brief hiatus from my blog - it could end up being only for a couple weeks, it could be for a month. Hell, it's even possible I won't update again till he's home, but I apologize to my faithful readers, and hope you'll bear with me during this time. My stage of impatience has hit rock bottom, and I feel I really have nothing worthwhile to post about during this time, but I will come back (though I don't know when), and hope you'll all still be here when I do!! Thank you all for your continued support; I truly appreciate the influx of emails I've received from others in my same situation, from people who have no military ties and just want to let me know that Matt and I are in their prayers, and emails that are just friendly chit chat from other military wives and girlfriends. You have all helped me in some way, and I owe a debt of gratitude to each and everyone of you!

wishing matt was here @ 1:26 PM+

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+Friday, December 23, 2005+

MySpace Pictures

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas surrounded by the people you love and those who love you! God bless :)

wishing matt was here @ 10:36 AM+

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+Thursday, December 15, 2005+
It's strange to be in December. I can remember so vividly what last December was like - the stress, the anxiety, the fights, the worry, the fear - and time hasn't necessarily gone by fast, but it is introspective to sit down and think of the past year of my life. We've come almost full circle from the day Matt left (January 5), and I can still recall the morning of January 5, 2005 so well, it really does seem "like it was yesterday."

December was an awful month last year. I made the mistake of letting the girl who would be my roommate for the first part of the deployment move in on December 1, instead of making her wait till January 1 like I should have. The result was additional undue strain on a situation that was already stressful enough. We had no privacy our last month together; we were constantly in the company of a complete stranger living under our roof. We spent a lot of time in hotels during December to get away from her. Matt wasn't even able to spend his last night in his own bed, and I feel terrible for it, but at least we got to spend the last night alone, which was what was most important to both of us.

As we near the end of the deployment - as we get to the point where I can count double digit days or even say there's only 10 and a half weeks left of this (God forbid I had counted weeks in the beginning!!) - my memory has become less selective. To help cope with the hardest times and the pain that comes from missing someone so much, there were many things I had to "forget" about mine and Matt's relationship. I pushed his loveable idiosyncracies away from my foremost thoughts, and I know for a fact that I won't fully know just how much I missed him till I'm back in his arms again; I've worked hard this past year to live my life and make the pain as numb as possible, and doing so required letting myself forget a lot of things. I had pushed them so deeply into the recesses of my mind that I couldn't even bring these memories up when I sought them.

Now they're starting to come back on their own accord - like a turtle that was scared into recession reemerging from its shell when it's sure it's safe to do so. I remember the smallest, seemingly insignificant things, and they make my heart ache for Matt, but they don't make me sad like they did in the beginning. Instead they make me happy; they make me realize that it's okay to let my heart ache because in 10 and a half weeks, Matt will be home. This will be over.

With Christmas nearing, things have been particularly...different (I'm not really sure what the right word is for the way things have been). It just doesn't feel like Christmas without Matt. I haven't put up any of our decorations this year save for a snowman candle which could be considered more seasonal than Christmas-y; I've only bought gifts for my family and his, and told all my friends to spend the money they'd use to buy me a gift to buy something nice for themselves instead. I'm just not feeling the spirit this year - we don't even have snow yet, as if Mother Nature is putting a white Christmas on hold for Matt's return (this time last year, we were so overwhelmed with snowstorms, everyone's cars were either stuck or buried). Sometimes I'll drive by a beautifully decorated house, and think to myself, Oh, right, it's Christmastime like the thought had escaped my mind, which it often does. It doesn't necessarily make me feel sad or dismal - I just don't care this year. In the Christmas package I sent Matt last week, I drew a Christmas tree on the inside of the card I sent him and wrote, "This way we can at least say we shared a tree." And that is our Christmas celebration this year.

This week has been awful. Last weekend Matt's grandma fell and broke her hip and one of my cousins succumbed to a cancer that had been malignant for years and suddenly reappeared out of nowhere and spread so fast there was nothing to be done. I didn't know my cousin very well (she was much older than me), but my aunt - her mother - had also lost her husband to cancer and another daughter to an accident, and watching family suffer so horribly, especially during a time that is supposed to be so joyous, is very painful.

On Tuesday as I got into my car after work, the damn thing wouldn't start. I had one of my coworkers try to jump start it, but I had a feeling that wasn't the problem as all the console and interior lights were still fully functional, and as suspected, the jump start didn't work. A friend of mine and Matt's picked me up from the office, I had my car towed to the shop yesterday morning, and have been driving Matt's truck - lovingly dubbed The Jalopy, it shakes so hard when it idles that coffee spurts on me from the cupholder in an interesting fountain of spills and it was broken into a long time ago so where the radio should be is just a big gaping hole. The interior smells like Kodiak - it reminds me of how happy I am that Matt quit chewing and that I've finally quit smoking - and there's clumps of consolidated cat hair on the driver's seat from Ashes crawling in the window and sleeping (I think he misses Matt more than anyone). In a weird way driving his truck makes me feel closer to him, but damn do I miss my quiet little luxury sedan - it's been in the shop too much in the last 6 months, and I reiterate my earlier point - don't ever buy a Jetta!

In the passenger seat of the truck are some army issued gloves, black boots (the ones he didn't need in Afghanistan since they're not a part of the desert camo) and an old styrofoam cup. The cup is from January 5 - it's from standing outside the armory in the freezing cold sipping coffee on our last morning together. I haven't forgotten about it - it wasn't a surprise to find it there in the place I left nearly a year ago. It's sentimental in a way I can't even explain, and I haven't been able to bring myself to throw it away let alone move it from its spot in the truck. It's reminiscent of one of the hardest days of my life, of cold weather and bittersweet tears, of the hardest goodbye I've ever had to utter, and of chasing a busload of soldiers down a freeway until, nearly blinded with tears, I had to take my exit and watch the bus grow smaller and smaller, taking my Matt away from me. I see it now and it makes me chuckle to think that I've held on to it for this long - that I've even been able to find sentiment in something as simple as a styrofoam cup - and it reminds me that we're almost there. Soon I'll see the bus coming back, growing larger and larger as it nears the base, and this time I'll be blinded with tears of joy instead of those of sadness, and instead of goodbye, I'll be able to utter what I've been waiting what feels like ages to say: "Welcome back."

wishing matt was here @ 1:04 PM+

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+Wednesday, December 07, 2005+
I just realized today how long it's been since I last posted. I usually try to post about once a week, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way!!

I had a very nice Thanksgiving with my parents - we went skiing on what little snow we have (last winter we were wishing the snow to go away, and I think they must've put that wish on layaway to give us this year...) and my mom and I got a little Christmas shopping done. I think it's the first time ever in my entire life that I actually shopped on Black Friday, but since we were in a small ski town where most people go to ski and not shop, it wasn't too bad. All I ended up getting anyway was a nice polo shirt for Matt that he won't be able to wear for another 2 and a half months, and regardless of how enjoyable the holiday was, I still felt empty: I woke up Friday after Thanksgiving thinking to myself, One down, two to go. Is it just me or has 2005 taken its precious time coming to an end?!?

Monday will be mine and Matt's 3 year anniversary (and also the one year anniversary of Matt's proposal!), our third year of which we've hardly been able to spend together, but as I wrote to him in a recent letter, I love him just as much as ever! I don't remember where I first heard the quote "distance is to love like wind is to fire. It extinguishes the weak and kindles the great," but for the last 11 months it has continually rang true. I don't know about absence making the heart grow fonder, but I certainly don't love him any less! Now our conversations seem more lively than they ever have during this deployment - I feel closer to him like all these miles that have been separating us are closing in. This is really almost over and it's really okay for me to start exhaling - they've shipped home most of the unit's trucks already and soon all the guys'll be moving into tents to make room for the relieving units coming in. It's not time to break out the champagne and rejoice with cries of "We did it!" just yet, but it's close - so close that I've starting working on the elaborate "Welcome Home" banner I have planned (I do think it'll take about 2 months to complete this monster). I'm still finding it a little hard to believe that in just a month he'll have been gone for a year!

For Christmas I decided to whip up a batch of some peanut butter cookies (Matt adores peanut butter - when he was home he'd be content to sit on the couch with a jar of Jiffy and a spoon). I haven't really sent him food since he's been in Afghanistan. Toward the beginning when he was still in Ft. Sill, he asked me to ship him his running shoes and as a nice gesture I thought I'd bake him some cookies to throw in the package as well. I'm a terrible cook, so partly I've avoided sending baked goodies to save us both the trouble (me of having to cook it and him of having to eat it), plus between my mom and his, I know he's been well taken care of in the snacky food department. Back when Matt was at Ft. Sill and I decided to send him cookies, I was a "cookie shipping virgin." I had never, before that point in my life, mailed food or had any reason to. Naturally I'll use that as an excuse for what happened, but mostly I suppose it could be summed up pure and simple to a temporary loss of common sense (referred to by many as a "blonde moment"). I put the cookies on a paper plate and wrapped them up with aluminum foil. As you can imagine, the cookies arrived dried out and scattered all over the box (and yes, even in the shoes I shipped with the cookies). Matt, bless his heart, still ate them as did his roommates who told him that I was the worst cook ever (can't blame them!).

I felt really bad about the Ft. Sill incident and haven't sent Matt many homemade cookies because of it (that and the mortifying thought of his roommates eating cookies that had been in Matt's dirty running shoes). Of course it would be asinine to think I'd made the same mistake twice, but I think all parties involved - myself, Matt, and the other soldiers in his unit who might try to partake in another man's cookies - are grateful for my minimal baking - I really am THAT bad (seriously. I burn hamburger helper). One might wonder how I've managed to survive 11 months without Matt to cook for me with my apparently awful skills, but that's another story for another time. However, I felt horrible sending Matt for Christmas the same old package I always send him, so I thought I'd take a chance and spice it up a little with some peanut butter cookies (the Ready-to-Bake kind that are already in little squares and all you have to do is lay them on the cookie sheet - anything more and I might have burnt down the house). This time I sealed them tightly in zip lock baggies and then put the baggies in tupperware - I only pray they make it to Afghanistan tasting as good as they did last night (not all of them would fit in the tupperware so I ate a couple for myself). Some things can't be helped, but it would be nice if I could send Matt some good cookies!

I don't really have much to update on - my life as of late has been devoted to school with finals right around the corner, so nothing too exciting has been going on for me! I thought I'd end the post with this letter that was read a couple days ago on the AM news radio station I listen to at work (I have a big Sean Hannity crush...crap, I mean I'm a fan...LOL) and this was read by the local news personality:

Cindy Sheehan asked President Bush, "Why did my son have to die in Iraq?" Another mother asked a chief of police, "Why did my son have to die in this city as one of your police officers?" Yet another asked President Kennedy, "Why did my son have to die in Vietnam?" and another asked President Truman, "Why did my son have to die in Korea?" Yet another asked President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "Why did my son have to die at Iwo Jima?"

Another mother asked President Wilson, "Why did my son have to die on a battlefield in France?" Yet another mother asked President Lincoln, "Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg?" and another mother asked President Washington, "WHy did my son have to die near Valley Forge?"

Long, long ago a mother asked, "Heavenly Father, why did my son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem?"

The answer to all these are simple - that others may have life and dwell in peace, happiness and freedom.

-Gilbert Edwards

wishing matt was here @ 1:05 PM+

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