"We are packing the plane", is what I was told tonight on the other end of the line when I asked my husband what time he thought he might be home for the night. Caught off guard by his answer, I asked it again and he said " Honey we are packing the plane to prepare it for leaving for deployment." "Oh ok" was my response because strangely enough it took me by surprise. Not that them getting Marines ready for a deployment is surprising and that he was leaving it was just the words and the tone that took my attention. It wasn't a rude tone or one to dismiss me. It was a serious voice, one of someone taking a leadership role. It was his Marine voice. One that I only hear on a few occasions. It was one letting me know he is preparing his Marines for leaving and that he too is prepared to go. Being that this is going on our 7th deployment, I have noticed the signs they discuss to us in our pre-deployment briefs occurring over the last few weeks, heck the last couple of months. There is never a good time for goodbyes and there is never a good time for change and when combined with the holiday stresses, it can be very overwhelming. However, given these past few days we have been able to spend time together. We have enjoyed ice skating, dinners out, bowling, and other enjoyable things just trying to soak in all of the little moments we can so that when we are lonely for one another we can pull from that memory bank to help get us through our next few moments. We call them around here "mental snapshots" you know those pictures in your mind that no matter how long they are there they are just as clear as the day they first happened. Military families cling to these and we are no exception. So this past week during these times, I have noticed the great care my man has taken in preparing his family for this transition. I can see it in his body language and the things he is doing around the house, with the kids, with me, heck even with our dog Maverick. Not that he is not normally so intricate in our lives, because he is, it is just this time, he is paying more attention to the small details. Ones that most people put off everyday, but he makes a point to do them. He has got our new electronics in working order and has shown me how to use them, he has made a playlist of favorite music for the girls, he has left me with a list of bill names, passwords, etc. so that the things he normally takes care of can now be turned over to me. We have important paper work filled out saying things about what I should do and others should do incase something does not go as planned. He has soaked in longer hugs and sloppy kisses. He has the cars tuned up and ready to go and of course his favorite motorcycle all greased up and shiny looking. So of course, his reply tonight would be it is time to pack the plane.
Something about those green seabags can send any wife a chill down their spine. I have a friend Amy that once described it in her blog as a love hate relationship we have all come to have with it. It is a love relationship because we know as long as they are in our closets, they are home, but when they are out it is almost time for another departure so we generally begin to dislike them. It is a bag only big enough to fit clothes that are necessary and very few personal items and as I hung up the laundry today in our closet I took notice of my man's side of the closet. I could almost pack his seabag for him by now and just by looking on his side I could pretty much tell anyone what would go and what would stay. I could feel my heart sink a little at the thought of the extra hangers that soon would be there in there places. So packing his bag would be the last intricate part of our pre-deployment cycle and then he would be gone.
So although he will most likely be home very late this evening and working on new year's, I will cherish these last moments we have together and gather as many mental snapshots as I can because although the bags are being packed and some sent off, my man is still here, until the call comes for departure.