8.11.2008

Today I Started My Countdown...

Phew... what a day. I know that most of you read me in order to get a chuckle or to make your bad day at work a little more tolerable-thank you for letting me make you smile. Today I just don't have anything good to say. I have given you little outskirts of my personal life... you know I am married, that I have children, that I am Catholic and that I drink, but you don't really know the inner works of my life. That is my choice-basically because my life is really boring, so I use humor to liven it up. But today I am going to take that chance that you may want to know a little of my personal life. You may want to know what today was really like. You may really want to hear about Carl leaving and my heart feeling as if it is going to implode. So here goes...

Carl and I met in 1990. We started dating that summer and went off to different colleges in the fall. We kept in touch and knew that we really liked one another. When the next summer came around... that is when we fell in love. We spent all of our time together and made plans for a future, a future that would include children and mortgages. At the end of that summer, we were separating again-Carl going off to Arizona and me heading back to Southern Indiana. I will never forget the day that we said good-bye. He drove over to my parents house before he headed out on his 30 hour road trip back to school. We hugged, we kissed, we gazed into each other's eyes... and then he turned to leave and I thought I would no longer be able to breath without him. I watched as his car turned the corner away from me and I crumbled to my feet. 4 months later we were engaged and 18 months after that we were married.

Carl's job has always taken him away. There have been years where he was gone over 200 days. Separation became a way of life for us... it became normal. I could handle the separations simply because they were 30-45 day trips. The longest we have actually been apart was during the war and that was for 5 months. I was pregnant with Emma at the time and that proved to be a blessed distraction from my husband's absence. I had never felt the pain of the separation the way I did the first summer we fell in love. As time passed and as jobs changed, Carl leaving was no longer a focal point in our marriage. It was now normal for him to be home. When he would go away on a 2 week trip, we looked at it as a welcomed break from our regularly scheduled lives that would offer us a fabulous reunion in a short time. If my husband never had to leave my side again I would have been happy.

Last night Carl and I did not want to fall asleep because we knew the moment that we fell asleep when we woke up THIS day would be here. The day we have known about for 8 months now. The day we have been avoiding and ignoring. The day that when I would think about it I would instantly grown teary eyed and my heart would begin to race causing me to quickly shove the thought out of my mind.

I woke up and made him eggs and bacon. I took a picture of him eating breakfast. We drove to base and waited to say good-bye. We chit-chatted happily, but every once in a while he would look at me and I would look at him and the air would leave our lungs. Last night I broke down after dinner. Our last family dinner for a year. I broke down the way I did our first summer in love-with uncontrollable-ugly tears. Carl just held me. I broke down later in the evening as well and again, Carl held me. You have to know that I love him the way heroine loves her hero.

Finally the time had come to say those final good-byes. Hugs and kisses, "be good for your mom" was said, I love you's were rampant, a final plea from me to tell them he can't go... and the last time he would have to tell me that he had to go, and we watched him walk away.

We drove to the observation deck to watch his plane take off. We stood on the very tip top of the hill so that he would definitely be able to see us-to possibly be able to feel our love for him, and we waved with all of our mights as he screamed past us. I know we were all thinking the same exact thought... "Come Back!"

So that is the story of a good-bye. We are all sad in the Cleaver house and when I am sad I become a hermit. The kids are like me and I am looking forward to finishing this post and huddling under blankets on the couch with them. The enormity of the year ahead of us is too overwhelming to think about right now. Next week I will be back to normal... but today I want to cry. I want to be sad. I want my husband back.

All I see on the horizon is the day that he comes home. That is what we are working toward... to have his toothbrush making water marks on the sink again.

44 comments:

Mary Poppins NOT said...

Oh, man. I can not fathom. I made illusions to a good bye I have coming up. It is different, though. My son is going to boarding school in a few weeks. We made the decision, based on good things. But the closer the good bye gets, the more panicky I feel. If it is any consolation, I will offer my aching mother's heart in a prayer for you and your family. Relish your couch time, wallow a bit, and then do what you have to do.

Blessings.

momto5minnies said...

I wish I could hand you a tissue in person, but I'm afraid I may need it too.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful love story. Your husband will certainly be in my prayers, as will you.

((((HUGS))) from far away,
Elaine

Mama DB said...

Cris. I am sorry this day is here. I'm glad you have your kids about you. The love story is wonderful. I hope this year goes quickly for you.

And for when you are feeling a tad better...What are we doing next? Diet? Couch to 5frigginK? I'm with ya sister. I'll help ya git 'er done.

Anna B. said...

(((HUGS))) and prayers for you and your family...

Robin said...

Sending hugs your way! Thank for sharing. I wish there was something better to say, but there's not. So, I pray for you as easy a year as you can get.

christine said...

I'm so sorry this day had to come for you. I can't even imagine how all of you must feel. I hope the time passes quickly.

Anonymous said...

Oh Honey! There just aren't words....

Tana Mc

Jennie said...

Prayers for you and your family- I can't imagine what it's like. Take care.

angie a said...

You paint a beautiful picture with your words. There are tears in my eyes. Saying extra prayers for Carl's safe return and your strength while he is gone!

Kathy said...

Praying for all of you!

Marva said...

June, why don't you come visit us in Spain? You can homeschool there! Think of the wonderful history and geography lessons you could teach your children. Hey, I'm just sayin'...

Sending hugs, lots of love & prayers...

amy said...

invisible hugs and prayers coming your way. You huddle under those blankets all you want.

Cousin Steve said...

LOVE

Krystle said...

I can't even fathom what you're going through... you huddle under those blankets whenever you need to. God Bless you and your family...

The Ironic Catholic said...

I think if you weren't sad today you wouldn't be part of the human race.

Peace these next few days (and more),
IC

Aubrey said...

I can't imagine what you must feel. We'll continue to pray for your family. Carl will come home safe and sound.

A Simple Sinner said...

As a fellow Catholic I would urge you to have Masses offered for the intention of your husband's safe and happy return. I have done so for my own intentions and always feel better when I can send the Mass card to someone for whom I am praying.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

blunoz said...

Having been there on the side of the guy leaving his family behind (only on the water instead of in the air), I can relate to the sadness and emotional trauma of a departure on an extended deployment. You don't want to say goodbye, but you must get down the hatch and get down to business. Personally, I think it's easier on the service member who leaves, because we just throw ourselves into work. I'm not saying I didn't miss my family when I was gone, but I think it was harder for my wife and kids who weren't working 16 hour days and absorbed in "the mission" at hand.

God bless you and your family. We pray every night for Americas service men and women serving forward deployed overseas, and we specifically name those we know personally "over there" (5 until now, adding Carl makes 6). We've been praying for you and your family for the past week or so in anticipation of this moment, knowing the pre-separation stress you have been dealing with.

God doesn't give us more than we can handle. He put Carl where he is for a reason. He put you where you are for a reason. I have confidence that the Lord will provide you the support and encouragement you need to make it through this difficult experience.

Take care and "keep us posted" (no pun intended :-) ).

Kevin

Jennie said...

Before we were married my husband and I were separated for about three years where we would write letters and see each other for visits once or twice a year for a week or two. I lived with my parents in Alaska while he lived in Minnesota with his family. I was pretty sure I was going to die, and being separated from him felt pretty much the same way, in my gut and in my heart, like when my dad died. It was just that horrible sorrow from being separated from my beloved.
All I can say is hunker down, sob till your eyes swell shut and the snot runs down your chin(the ugly cry) and try not to avoid the sadness, live in it for a while and accept that it is where you are at and it is okay. Eventually you can move to going through the motions and speckled in will be some good days where you don't forget but some good feeling can get globbed onto the crummy (like cheese on the brussel sprouts, doesn't change the fact you are eating crap, just makes the crap palpable.) Then you mark time by birthdays and holidays, any landmarks to look forward to that show passage of time, when the half-year hump is here in February you can get excited to start the downhill trek, and Carl's coming back to you. Reunions are so sweet. I look forward to sharing in your joy this time next year.

Jennifer
PS My son is altar serving every day this week so we will light a candle for you and pray for stregnth and peace for you and your family, and this year we will be sure to pray for your husband's safety and ask his guardian angel for extra-vigilant protection, guidance, and support.

Rambling Hal said...

Great. Now I can't stop crying. :(

May he come back safe and sound to you....I'll pray for you and your family with all my heart really I will.

Steph said...

I'm de-lurking, because I just can't not comment. Wonderful story! Thanks to Carl and you and the rest of your wonderful family for making such huge sacrifices. On behalf of my family and myself - we much appreciate it! You will all be in our thoughts & prayers for the next year. Enjoy your snuggles with the kiddos, and take all the time you need - we'll all be here when you return!

Owens Family Adventures said...

I am so sorry. I will be thinking about you and your family today and sending some warm thoughts and hugs our way.
dawn

Anonymous said...

Be sad..be human..then be what your husband loves you for and you will make it.
Think of your suffering as God working in you for something extraordinary. No less difficult but bearable.

a hail mary for you today + whenever I visit your blog...

C

Aimee said...

I am with you on this, believe me.
My husband and I have spent a good portion of our lives separated from each other, and the leaving is AWFUL! Worse than awful. My husband still has the leather jacket that I ruined with my tears during one particularly sad farewell.

I will pray for you, and your family, and THANK YOU for letting him go and serve. As we say in this house, "It's a sucky job, but someone has to do it."

Lanxi said...

This was such a beautiful story, even in your sadness. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

Praying for your whole family during Carl's absence! Hug the kids, and just do what you need to do for the next few days...(weeks?)

Robert M. Lindsey said...

I have no idea what to say, but I will be praying for you and Carl and the kids.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

Praying for you all....

Shannon said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I can't ever imagine saying goodbye to my husband for a year. I'll pray that the days get easier, that this year will fly by , and for his safe return. God bless you and your family.

Regular gal said...

I used to see my husband twice a year, if we were lucky (but this was before we got married), I know the awful cry... the hiccups can hardly breathe snot everywhere tears down to the tshirt cry. God bless you and all of your family and we'll pray for his safe return.

Kasia said...

Oh, Cris. :-(

I think God just gave me my motivation to say that at-least-one-decade-of-the-Rosary every day that my confessor wants me saying.
For all that you and Carl and your kids sacrifice for the rest of us, the least I can do is pray a decade each day for his safe return.

Big hugs...I know what it's like to be separated from my beloved for a couple of weeks, and that's hard enough. I can't wrap my brain around a year.

(Hey - if you and the kids are lonely and want a road trip, and want to come to Detroit in January, we could find room at the reception for you...)

Becca said...

*sniff*

MKHKKH said...

I read your post "there is no easy way to do this" and have been avoiding coming back. I got a pit in my stomach and knew what you were going through was unbearable. I have sensed that you and Carl have that same intense love that max and I have. We met in 1990 too, but were 14. I don't know how you guys do it. It because of strong people like you that America is so great! I would fold. I would crawl into my bed and die. Thank you for your sacrifice. When they say America's freedom isn't free, I hope you know that YOU paid some of its price, not just Carl. My husband adores your blog and humor. He said, "how can June be June with no Ward?" Hugs to you and your family :(
Know you are in my prayers.

Joe said...

You and your family will be in me and my family's prayers for the next year. God Bless

Andie said...

There are no words to express our gratitude for Carl's sacrifice and your family's sacrifice. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Each time I visit your blog, I will say a Hail Mary for his safe and quick return. God Bless you and your family.

Mary Ellen Barrett said...

I am so sorry you'll be without your dear, wonderful husband for a whole year. I can't really imagine how sad you must be. You and your children will remain in my prayers. I'll also pray for his safe return.

I am so grateful for your husbands brave service and your family's sacrifice. You are all truly heroic.

+JMJ+ said...

Your love story made me cry. Thank you for sharing it. Every story you tell, every part of you that you reveal is engaging.

You have opened yourself up only to the prayers of many who want to pray you through this and can't imagine the emptiness...

So, fill it with our love and know that your Carl, your family is in our prayers!

Michelle said...

Aw, honey. (patpatpat)

Regina said...

i cant thank you enough for your families sacrifice for our country! just your words brought tears to my eyes, i cant even begin to imagine what you are going through.
we will be sure to add your family to our prayers-for Carl's safe return and for your continued strength!
r

Reg said...

My wife has mentioned your blog and by chance I happened to open it tonight for the first time. I am genuinely touched by your account. As a Catholic dad to a Catholic mom, I hope you and your kids are reunited with your husband asap and that all will be as well as can be. Your words give us all a greater appreciation of what we have, and that is really a significant accomplishment. Thanks and best wishes! God bless you Cleavers!

Reg (spouse of Jennifer)

Sarah said...

I am praying (and crying after reading this post!) for you and your family! Thank you for taking the chance to be "real" with your readers. We love your humor, but know that to be humorous, one must also experience difficulty and pain. Sometimes it's easy to forget that when reading blogs. Thank you again and I will keep you in my prayers!

Best,
Sarah

Diva Mom Vicki said...

More tears on this end of the internet.

My girlfriend's husband leaves for Iraq on Saturday. So now we'll have two families we'll be praying for by name at bedtime.

Sending you cyber-chocolate... and cyber-adult-libation-of-choice!

Trina said...

You made me laugh and cry all in one reading of your blog.

My heart goes out to you and your family and we'll be praying for you too.

Rebecca said...

((HUGS)) We've just hit the 11 month mark of a 15 month deployment but I can still remember what it felt like those first moments, days & weeks he was gone. I hope the time passes quickly for you, I'm sure the kids & activities will help with that. Nights are the hardest, when everyone is in bed & it's just you & the TV. I hope you have a good group of friends to help you through & be a support to you. I don't know what I'd have done without my friends. Wish you & your hubby all the best over the next year and he will be in my prayers.

The Wades said...

Crying right now! Thank you so much for the sacrifices made by your entire family! I cannot imagine AT ALL how hard this is on all of you.