I woke up because I heard his pillows fall off of the bed. I get up, pick them up and place them back where they would be if he were home. I look at the time, thinking maybe this a little sign that he's online or has sent me an email. I check, nothing. No IM. No email. Nothing. Not a peep. Just an eerie feeling that troubles me when I try to go back to bed.
I finally fall asleep with my phone on his pillow, only to wake up to the alarm buzzing away on the table beside the bed. I get up, wake the kids and help them get their breakfast. At the time, they were 4 and 9. I remember their sleepy faces.
They didn't lose a single one that day, minus the vehicle he was driving. What happened immediately afterwards resulted in the General putting them all in for a Bronze Star that those below E6 were denied by a LTC who said those awards aren't for the "lower" enlisted. (That's why that phrase pisses me off, by the way.)
He finished the deployment with back pain now and then after the IED. We chalked it up as having to wear all that armor on a daily basis. Later we found out that the armor had actually kept it compressed. When he got home and the armor wasn't a daily part of his wardrobe, that's when everything went to hell. He collapsed in PT at Hood.
A few months later, we PCSed. He went through months of unsuccessful physical therapy, while still trying to do his job. Almost a year after returning from Iraq, I drove him to a hospital, where a last resort surgery removed 20-some% of the vertebrae that had been smashed together as a result of the explosion.
Six months after surgery, he passed his PT test and worked his way back to pre-IED condition. A year later, the Army picked him for DS duty. I worried the entire 9 weeks of school about him aggravating the injury. I worried through combatives where they threw him on the ground or when they punched him repeatedly in the face. He never stopped. He refused to quit. He finished DS duty in December of 2011 as one of the most respected DS's in the BN. And now here we are back in what we lovingly call "normal Army life" with another deployment looming over our heads for next year. It's his job, he says and yet in my mind I still hear the words...
"It didn't go off as planned." And I'm scared all over again.
There's a small part of our Army journey. I've been thinking about it off and on since Casey posted "Letter to a FriendWhose Husband is Deployed" and again when he started watching Iron Man a little while ago. I had to walk away from the beginning of the movie. I thought typing it out would help. But at least I can share it with others who understand.
|Not everyone who deserves one, gets one.|