Instead any time a white coat got near me with a tourniquet in hand I clenched up a little more. I would say to myself, “I’m used this. I’ve done this before. Hey—in my ‘healthy days’ I used to donate blood regularly. What is the big deal, Val?”
I’ve survived each and every needle prick with some deep breathing and eyeball aversion. But the question lingers… Isn’t this supposed to get easier? So why does it feel harder each time I watch my arm be disinfected with alcohol and the packages of sharps, and tubes get opened?
We’re facing down our fourth deployment. We’re smack in the middle of work-ups so my husband is basically a human yo-yo. He leaves for a month, comes home for a month. Leaves for a month, comes home or a month. We’ve done all this before. This isn’t my first rodeo.
This week a soul-sucking sadness has slowly crept up and surrounded me. As I was driving doing some benign little errand tears came to my eyes and I realized-- I just, plain miss him. And what’s worse, I miss him now and he hasn’t even left for this deployment. It feels like grief. It is grief. We will again lose HIM for months at a time. I hate when he is gone. I don’t want him to be gone…. I don’t want to feel the void beside me on the couch or in my bed. I don’t want to do day after day after day of life without him.
Isn’t this supposed to be easier by now? My heart shouldn’t be hunkering down and cowering in fear as “Deployment Day” creeps ever closer on the calendar.
“This is what we do!” right?
Sensory memory is the strongest for me. I’m often surprised at how much memory resides in my body. Give me a smell, or a sound, or a breeze across my brow and I am transported right back to a point in time—good or bad.
As I trudge through work-ups with my kids and we say the litany of “Good-bye again, Hello again,” those sensory memories come back. The drive in to the air terminal…. The sound of my kids sobbing for their Daddy in the backseat…. The empty feeling in the pit of my stomach as we drive out the gate and I grasp desperately at straws for something that will ease the sting for all of us…. The nights where I stay up too late just to hear the sound of quiet… the feeling at the end of the day when I long to sit with him and process through it all. My senses are engaged and I remember that I’ve been here before, and I dread what is coming.
History tells me the odds are in my favor. So far I have lived through 100% of my blood draws and IV placements .
We have come through 100% of our times away from one another. We made it through all 3 of his deployments. He came home safely and I navigated the maze of gremlins and lonesome nights. It’s not so much that I fear we won’t make it through this one too.
It’s just that I know the pain. I’ve felt the pain. And sometimes knowing what to expect is a double-edged sword.