Every day we went somewhere different to eat. He wanted to have some of everything before he went off to boot camp. I was 6 months pregnant, and everything…and every smell turned my stomach. But I went, because I still WANTED to eat, even though almost nothing stayed down and because I knew that time was slipping away. Soon, he’d be gone. And I’d still be here.
The last day before he left, we went out and came back to pack & clean his (always dirty) room. I fell asleep, as usual, in his bed. He woke me up, because it was time for me to get back and he had to get up early in the morning. I cried. Because I was feeling all sappy, and I always do when he goes away (yes. even now). He hugged me and told me that he would be back soon, he would write and he would call.
I didn’t go to his graduation, because I was not feeling good enough to make the drive. But I saw thousands of pictures, of him in his brand new Marine Corps uniform. Did I mention that I LOOOOVE a man in uniform? Because I do. And he was extra skinny. Because in boot camp, you didn’t walk; you ran. EVERYWHERE. And don’t be the recruit lagging behind. Or so I’ve heard. I’m a lollygagger…just one more reason that I never would have cut it in the USMC.
But I did the next best thing... which, is sort of like joining. I married a Marine. I’ve lived with the *locals* in Hawaii and Boston, on Marine Corps bases in San Diego and Army (?!) bases in Yuma and am now back in Southern California. I’ve spent up to a year intermittently pining for The Man while he went unaccompanied overseas. This would not be including any time he spent in the sandbox. Which was time spent quietly (and sometimes NOT so quietly) freaking out because there was a pretty good chance that he was going to be shot at maybe not make it home. (For which I thank GOD EVERY DAY that he did. REALLY), and not sleeping because I was worried I was going to miss his call which was always at the most randomest of times, or not sleeping because the news only likes to report how many people died in Iraq/ Afghanistan (which is why I stopped watching), not how The Man was doing over there.
I’ve sat not so quietly when the moving people were shoving all my shit in a box for the NEXT duty station. I’ve comforted both brats when they moved to another school AGAIN. I’ve cleaned more apartments to look brand spanking new so I could get my deposit back…and sometimes paid a cleaning lady (heh). I’ve memorized The Man’s SSN# because it’s the only one that matters in the military-- I’ve forgotten my driver’s license but NEVER my ID card. I’ve called the Red Cross because I needed to get in touch with The Man RIGHT NOW, and I knew that was the only way. I’ve opened my home to single Marines since the day I got married, so they could ALWAYS have a home cooked meal. I’ve lost touch with military wives because it used to be so hard to keep in touch/ have the right phone number when everybody is changing duty stations/ husbands are complaining about phone bills. I experience sticker shock every time I go into a grocery store to buy eggs & milk.
Today is The Man’s last day as an enlisted Marine. Tomorrow, he will OFFICIALLY retire/ be a civilian. No more ironing Cammies (although I haven’t in quite some time), early morning PT sessions, unit/battalian formations, or doing stuff because the Sgt. Major said so. I have no idea what I’m going to do with you not going TDY, or going on field ops, or having duty…plain & simply underfoot all the damn time.
But I am so happy to have you home.