I am an Army wife. My husband is currently in Baghdad, and will be for the foreseeable future. This is not my first deployment, it’s not the first time I’ve been "left behind," I am good at this, comfortable at being alone, and self sufficient. I’m sure this deployment won’t be the last time he has to leave me; he has six more years to go before he can retire.
A few months ago, I was at home working on a craft project. It was supposed to be a quiet weekend for me, except for the fact that I hadn’t heard from my husband in over three days. Usually, I hear from him once or twice a day via email. He calls home once a week or so.
The DoD had just announced the deaths of thirteen more troops. I’m a little worried. Okay, - a lot worried.
I had been nervously checking my email and our bank account for signs of activity. My husband and I have an agreed upon method of communicating should his internet access go down. He goes to the FOB’s PX and buys something with his debit card. I can see the purchase online and I know he’s okay. But for three days, there is nothing. Nada. Zip. I worry more.
Then, the doorbell rang...
All my friends and neighbors know that they have to call before coming over. Lou, our mailman, just leaves packages without knocking. I love him for this, I think he’s the greatest mailman ever and I tell him so whenever I see him. I carefully posted a "NO SOLICITING" sign on our front door before my husband deployed last fall. I wanted to eliminate the anxiety that comes with not knowing who’s on the other side of my front door while my husband is gone.
The doorbell rang. Nobody had called to tell me they were coming over. I haven’t heard from my husband in three days. What’s happened to him?
My knees start to shake. I haven’t heard from Matt in three days. Where is he? Why hasn’t he emailed me? Where is he? What’s wrong? Who is on the other side of my door? Oh please dear God, don’t let whoever is standing there be wearing a uniform. I will do anything. Anything. What will I do without the man I love most in this world? How can I live without him in my life? What will I do? This can’t be happening. No, no, NO!
I start to cry. The tears start and they don’t stop. I am shaking all over now, and my hands are cold. And I still don’t know who’s on the other side of my door. My dogs are quiet, they can sense my anxiety. Usually they bark at the doorbell. What are they trying to tell me? Oh my God, please, no, anything but that. Anything.
I feel myself get up and I start walking to the door. I can hear my heart beating, and it feels like it’s going to jump out of my chest. I can’t breathe, someone is sitting on my chest. It takes me ten seconds to get to the door, but it feels like forever. I’m still crying, still shaking, I feel like I need to puke. I’m cold all over. My mouth is dry. I see my hand reach for the doorknob. It’s shaking as it unlocks the deadbolt. Who is there? What am I about to see? Who will I call to come hold me? Why me? Why us? Why now? WHY WHY WHY??? Oh my God, NO! The voice in my head is screaming; "NOT MY HUSBAND!"
I open the door...
It’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And I’m still crying, big heaving sobs are leaving my body. I can’t stop them from coming. These people look at me like I’m crazy. Maybe I am crazy? The voice in my head is still shrieking. And then they start to sell me their religion.
I close my front door hard, and I collapse against it, wracked by big gasps of air and then moaning. Whose voice is that? It doesn’t sound like my voice. My legs can’t stand up anymore and I just sit there crumpled up against my front door, sobbing and moaning. Our dog, Major, is licking my face and I grab his neck and I can’t let go. I hold him so tight I think he might pop, and I keep crying. I can’t stop crying. Why can’t I stop? What’s wrong with me? I don’t know whether I am crying because I am scared, lonely, angry, relieved, or depressed. Maybe it’s all of those? I cried myself to sleep that night, and I’m crying again as I write this. Dear God, please stop this nightmare. Please let me wake up.
Yesterday, the wives of Carl Leonard Seigart and Allen Mosteiro heard that knock on the door, they answered it, and their worlds crumbled down around them. They are now feeling the same emotions I did that day. Except for them, this isn’t a drill; there’s no Jehovah’s Witnesses on the other side of the door. It’s real, there’s a Casualty Assistance Officer and a Chaplain standing there. Their new nightmare is just beginning.
Both these women's husbands were assigned to 1st Cavalry. My husband is assigned to 1st Cavalry. There but for the grace of God go I, and I have many months to go....
I cry for their pain, and for pain of all the other wives who have lost the love of their lives.
Click here for the previous diary in this series or click the igtnt tag.