The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. |

January 24, 2011

Name: airforcewife
Spouse: returned from overseas
Milblog: SpouseBUZZ

I only get sick when Air Force Guy is not home. This is not one of those statements like, “It only rains when I wash my car,” it’s the absolute truth. I only get sick when AFG is not home. And I get sick at some point every time AFG is not home.

It’s maddening.

Let’s take, for instance, AFG’s most recent trip to a far-off, exotic locale (which happened over our anniversary). The second day after he left, I planned to get up early and make it to a boxing class at my gym. I told my coach I would be there, I got everything ready the night before, and then… I woke up in the morning throwing up everything I had eaten since graduating the eighth grade.

It was horrible. Truly horrible. And disgusting. In case anyone is wondering, there is something worse than the taste of Pepto Bismol going down. Pepto coming up. Urggghhh.

Every Single Time


We did not have the ability to talk on the phone during that particular trip, but we did have email contact, so I took a few moments to email AFG that I was ill and went to bed until 7:45 that evening (luckily my children were cooperative and didn’t attempt to kill each other until after I was able to stand upright for longer than fifteen seconds at a stretch).

When I checked my email again that evening, I noticed a note from AFG:

Well, I didn’t get an email from you today and it’s late, so I’m going to go to bed now.  I really wish I had heard from you.

This did not go over well with airforcewife. I’m pretty sure that I had the same reaction that many others will upon reading that line: “Excuse me?”

I stifled the urge to write something truly snarky in return, and gently reminded AFG that I had emailed to tell him I was sick. The next morning, I had this reply in my in-box, “I’m sorry! I didn’t think you were really sick.”

Of course he didn’t! He doesn’t see me sick! The only time I ever get sick is when he is gone.  Apparently, I have super-special never-get-sick genetics. Also, I can translate pursed lips and tapping feet into email format, because AFG figured out really quickly that he had said something very, very wrong.

This led to a rather long discussion when AFG came home. For one thing, I had realized that while I never get sick when AFG is home, AFG has the opposite problem going on. In all his deployments and trips, he has only gotten sick away from home once. And every single time he returns home, he comes down with illnesses of various intensities. So much so, and with such predictable regularity, that Wife Unit has christened AFG’s home-sick-days as “The [fill in the exotic, usually sandy locale] Crud.” We’ve been through the Iraq Crud, the Afghan Crud, and the Korean Crud. Also, the Turkish Crud. And some first world crud as well, most notably from Las Vegas.

The second thing I realized is this: as a military wife, my husband’s mortality is always near the front of my consciousness. Anticipatory Grief has a place setting at our dinner table, for goodness sake. And a stocking at Christmas! I have planned for what I think is every contingency (because when you plan for it, it doesn’t happen -- Murphy’s Law).

But AFG does not think that way. And he never realized that he didn’t think that way, even though we’ve had the anticipatory grief discussion several times. Even though I’ve tried to bring up discussions for plans should something happen to me. In fact, I’m not sure he thinks about it at all -- even now.

Photo credit: sleepyneko

Comments

Thank you for putting this down so beautifully! You've put something into context for me, even though my guy isn't Military Guy - he's Cancer Survivor Guy. As CSG's Wife, his mortality is also always somewhere in my mind, ideally at the very back. CSG knows he may very well get hit again (like he says, not if but when), but you have to live for today while aimed at tomorrow, right? We both plan for every contingency, per Murphy's Law, but sometimes CSG'sW isn't as strong as CSG, and Anticipatory Grief gets a little bit of the upper hand. Since CSG and I both come from military families, we've lived with AG all our lives, even before he became CSG, and we just keep on talking it out. It sounds like that's what you and AFG will keep on doing, too. War and disease are just two of life's damn wolves at the door that can sharpen our appreciation of what we have, and make us want to protect it fiercely. You and AFG just keep on keepin' on, and I'll send up a prayer and a thought for you both. And keep writing! Thanks again to both of you.

Gee, I wish you were all on Zulu time, but your marriage is crossed continents - what a gripe that the one you count on isn't there for you - I locked everyone away at the last letter, the last picture, the last contact. And I noticed when I returned to normal world - the Soap Operas were still on the same story line, the only thing new were a couple of babies. Sorry that you get sick when you aren't together, only in that you get sick and that really spoils the being alone and untouched. But he did say he hadn't heard from you before he went to sleep - if I was tired, I wouldn't have waited, I would have gone to sleep leaving you to your time zone and God's care. But then I only wrote free letters that wouldn't be answered for weeks if at all. I am glad he gets to be an uncaring clod so quickly, got to love that internet. Be good to each other...

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