It was my first, long deployment, I was a newlywed and new dog-mom too. We were stationed in Alaska and my assignment team basically gave me a choice on where I would go (very unusual)—the desert or Bosnia. Hmm…Europe or the Sandbox, tough choice. It was after 9-11 but before OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. There were whispers of what was about to happen in Iraq but I didn’t really know for sure and I knew the Bosnia gig was a peacekeeping effort since the war that tore this land apart had come to an end and Milosivec was out of power. So, I chose Bosnia for the next 6 months.
I had no intention of keeping a journal of this time but my friend, Jill, gave me one at my farewell and inspired me to do so. I’m forever grateful to her for this since so much happened that I would have forgotten. It’s interesting to climb back into the cobwebs of your mind and revisit yourself years later. I’m sharing this journal and putting myself in front of you now. This is a much younger version of myself (15 years ago) in years and life experience, I wonder how the future me will read the pages of today.
4 October 2002
“Friendship is the bread of the heart.” Mitford
That quote was on the lovely card Jill presented me tonight, along with this cute journal. These gifts were truly heartfelt—these friends are gifts to us. Jill and Cary are wonderful people and I’m glad we met them.
As I packed today I worried about forgetting something, not cleaning the house enough before I go, not calling everyone I’m supposed to, all kinds of little things but I never, for a second, worried about my relationship with Shane. What a comfort and joy! Our relationship is blessed and I thank God constantly for this incredible blessing. I hardly feel worthy of such a blessing but I promise to cherish my sweet husband forever in an effort to show my thanks for this man I’ve been entrusted with—he trusted me with his heart.
So, I’m sitting at the airport in Anchorage, I’ve said my good-byes. I was “fine” until Shane and Zoe-dog dropped me off at the airport. Then, the small lump in my throat suddenly grew from the size of a bouncy ball to an orange and I found myself swallowing hard and blinking wildly to avoid a breakdown. I walked up to the ticket counter—unable to look back as they drove away and nearly lost it. The man at the counter was so nice and helped me but I couldn’t smile or joke with him…it was all I could do to keep from crying.
I went and bought some water and sat in front of the magazines for a while to get my mind off my sadness. It helped—funny how looking at stupid fashion and tabloid magazines can get your mind off everything. I found myself picking apart the models, the stars, the ugly, expensive dresses and feeling much better (an escape). I’m glad I avoided the temptation to go into a bathroom stall and cry my eyes out. The orange in my throat is down to a lemon now…baby steps, right?
Well, time to board. I put Enya in the CD player, I have my pillow and eye mask in hand and it’s off to Atlanta. St. Francis of Assisi is on my mind.
Fast Forward: All these years later and I read this thinking about how much I always avoided crying. I was taught (by my tough-guy dad) that it made you stronger to stay angry or stoney faced when your emotions wanted to take control. Ask me someday how many teeth I have lost over grinding them instead of just having a good cry. Too many. Ask me how many pills I’ve taken to avoid my emotions…I’ll tell you that not only have I damaged my kidneys, liver and stomach by swallowing pills and vodka instead of my pride, I also had stomach surgery to stop the heartburn, I bleed internally from my colon to my gut and still can’t cry. I’m a fucking robot now. What we teach our children can hurt them. Take care.
PS. I think it’s hilarious that I compared the lump in my throat to a bouncy ball. New dog-mom for sure! 🙂