Wednesday, October 14, 2009

wifercize wednesday: army wife

Story time.

Over Thanksgiving weekend I visited my paternal grandparents and uncle's family in Halifax, along with my parents, brothers, and Andrew. For the sake of brevity, the weekend was amazing; Halifax, beautiful; turkey, delicious; weather, fabulous; family, well.

On the way home, The Posse (dad, mom, bro #1, bro #2, and hubby) flew Porter and I flew WestJet. Kisses and hugs were exchanged as they boarded a few minutes before me, all of us joking that we'd see each other in Toronto in just over three hours. Or so we thought. My flight was canceled due to a plane malfunction, all 300 of us were put up in a nearby Quality Inn, and were scheduled to fly out on the next available flight - which was 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Over the course of Monday night, both Andrew and I suffered from the discomfort of Empty Bed Syndrome. Throughout our (year and five month) marriage, we have slept apart only a few nights and each was an explanatory, premeditated necessity. Never have we been apart by accident or, as the case was, unexpectedly. The Syndrome fed off the nasty surprise. By the time I finally drifted off to sleep (an hour and a half past when I should have, due to tossing and turning) only to wake at 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m., etc. in search of a body that wasn't there.

A body that wasn't lying, warm, beside me dreaming. A body that wasn't a reach away. Or even a stretch away. Or even a roll away. A body that wasn't available for me to "plug into"; a habit I have of tucking my hand under a part - an arm, a side, a shoulder - of Andrew just to know he's there. A body that has inspired some of my happiest, most comfortable contemplations.

I don't understand how 27 years of sleeping solo were undone by a few months of sleeping with Andrew, or how I have been conditioned to miss something that I lived without for the majority of my life. I don't understand and I don't care to.

A few of my friends and I saw The Time Traveler's Wife since we had all read the book by Audrey Niffenegger. The movie wasn't brilliant, but then, that was the required response of those who have read the book. As lackluster as we found it, however, all four of us were sobbing happily by the time the credits closed. There is something so raw and bitter about a married couple separated for any reason, for any length of time.

I have a friend who is the wife of a pilot who has been deployed to the Persian Gulf for six months. Six months. MONTHS. I'm reeling trying to even comprehend it. Half a year of Empty Bed Syndrome. I'm following her blog and will post a link here if and when she gives me permission (oh! she did!) but, until then, here is an excerpt that caught my breath:
If anyone out there has ever played the game "Settlers of Catan," then you'll understand this next illustration. In the game you have commodities such as wheat, sheep, and ore. You trade them to build settlements and cities. There is a card in the game called a Monopoly card. When you play this card, you are able to take all of one type of resource away from every player in the game. Then, you usually sell it back to them at a higher price. This is how I felt. The military was playing their monopoly card. They were taking my spouse, my community, my sense of home and were trying to sell me a cheaper version of the real thing at a higher price.
I suppose this post is to reflect on all the beds made empty by business, travel, war, illness, and death. It's not to glorify or vilify the Canadian Armed Forces, nor to wax poetic about the widows and the orphan so try not to get political or theological in your comments. I just had one of those moments that Rob Bell describes so eloquently in Drops Like Stars when I could feel a fraction of someone else's pain, thousands of miles and many more worlds away, because I experienced it in miniature.

Send a little love her way, will you? It will help keep her warm at night.


from away said...

Thanks for the love Sarah. It's going to be a crazy experience. But raw and real and that's all I've ever asked for.

Andrew G said...

Let's do our best to stay close, ok?

beth said...

This post had me tearing up, Sarah.

It is always good to remind ourselves not to take certain things for granted... :)

Angela said...

I used to be enamoured by the idea of Men in Uniform. Now, the idea horrifies me. Husband is gone all next week and I'm already lonely.