Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pre-Deployment Goals & Re-visiting sleep...

OPSEC. Operational Security. Something worth mentioning as I dive on in to deployment related blogging. Following OPSEC helps ensure a safe, timely return of all of our troops. With the ease of internet access these days, so much information ends up out there for anybody's eyes to see. A simple Facebook post about a deployment departure or homecoming can get into the wrong hands and spell disaster for the unit coming or going. Following OPSEC means never sharing publicly (social networking sites, blogs, emails) dates, times, or locations of troops. If a unit's command becomes aware of information being posted publicly, the departure or return dates can be changed for safety reasons. And so, as I countdown to James' departure day, and then to his homecoming, I'm going to have to be very vague.

So anyway, today I made James' Valentines Day gift. It's a small, soft cover photobook of pictures of the two of us. I really love how it turned out! Shutterfly is awesome! I made it small and with a soft cover so that he'll be able to take it with him when he leaves. That got me thinking about all the things I want to do and make before he leaves. Things for him to take with him, things for me, and things for Sam. Here's the list of things I've come up with so far

For James

-Valentines Day photobook
-Daddy&Sam photobook (might send to him as a Father's Day gift, so this one might not exactly be a pre-deployment project)
-a photo calender
-"Reasons I Love You" book
-jar full of inspirational notes
-videos on his computer of Sam and I talking to him (make some before he leaves, send more in care packages)

For Sam

-Daddy Doll (a person shaped doll with a full size picture of James on it, possibly also with a recording of James saying, "I love you")
-Daddy&Sam photobook
-photo board book
-photo calender
-recordable books
-Daddy videos saved on the computer (make some before he leaves, also have him make more throughout the deployment and send them home on a usb drive)
*I love you
*Good night
*Be good
*Good job buddy
*I miss you
*I'll be home soon

For Me

-Journal (going to start it now)
-large wall calender to cross off days and tear off months. Write in milestones to break up the time into chunks
-post it notes with quotes and song lyrics to make a wall countdown once we move up to PA
-Lots of framed photos and collages
-Videos for me (I'll let him surprise me with what he says in them, but I imagine basically the same idea as Sam's)

In addition to those things, there's some other (kinda big!) things that need to be accomplished

-Find an apartment
-Find a storage unit
-Decide what will go to storage
-Decide when our actual move will be (difficult to plan without knowing an exact departure date...)
-Get forms from Military One Source to get free YMCA membership
-Sign Sam up for swimming, music, and tumbling

It's going to be a busy time. But busy is good right? Busy means I'm not sitting around and moping!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holding it together

I've been using list making as a means to keep from going insane my whole life. And now, I need those lists more than ever. When I feel panicky about moving, or James' deployment, I pull out my notebook and pen and scribble down a list of some kind. Then I feel more in control, and can go back to whatever I had been doing. I guess there are worse things right?

To go back a few days.... the night that we found out Philip had been killed in Afghanistan, was the most upset I have ever seen my husband. It was a difficult evening for both of us. He came home from work and we both immediately lost control and sat on the couch for quite some time just holding each other and crying. Luckily Sam was content to play independently in his exersaucer and we were able to take time to gather ourselves together before putting him to bed. I had made a big crockpot full of chili and a pan of cornbread, but it sat un-eaten in the kitchen until much later that evening when James said, "You know, Phil would be pretty upset with us for letting food go to waste. He loved his food." We were able to laugh a little and eat dinner.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family during this difficult time, his funeral is going to be held in Texas this Saturday. We looked into how long the drive time will be, and how much plane tickets cost, but we're sadly not going to be able to make it. We'll be there in spirit though.

I've managed to get back to my planning and list making, as I said earlier in this post. Throwing myself into organizing and planning the next year for us, while stressful as anything, is really helping me right now. I have lists of possible apartments, lists of ideas for care package items and themes, lists of classes I'd like to sign Sam up for, lists of ways to keep Sam and James connected, lists of goals and projects I'd like to accomplish over the course of the deployment... lists and lists and lists.

I considered for a while starting up a new blog, to be used just during deployment, and the months leading up to it, but then I realized that this blog I have no has no specific purpose, so why not make it a deployment blog for a few months?

Yesterday I went to Target for a few things and, as always, wandered through the $1 section before visiting the rest of the store. I found some great, fun little things for James in there, and already have his first care package started! Once he's gone and I'm sending out my care packages, I'll post pictures here. I like the idea of doing themed care packages. He's going to be gone for a few important events and holidays that I'll send a themed care package for (our 2nd anniversary, family beach trip, Sam's 1st birthday, 4th of July, Labor Day camping trip, Halloween, Marine Corps Birthday, Thanksgiving...) but I have a few 'just for fun' themes as well.

Time seems to have gotten away from me here... Sam will be up soon from his nap, and I need to clean the master bathroom before he gets up and we go grocery shopping. I'll be glad to get out of the house for a while, I just wish it weren't so dreary and rainy (still) so that we could get out for a walk or something... hopefully we'll see some sun soon. Sam needs some fresh air! And so do I!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rest In Peace Marine...

Today is a hard day. We found out this morning that a friend of ours, who used to work with James, was KIA in Afghanistan. His wife had just moved back to NC and moved into their new home earlier this week, as he was due to come home in just a couple weeks.

Shock doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling right now. This is the first time a war casualty has hit so close to home.

I cannot imagine what his wife must be feeling right now. I literally can't let myself imagine it because I would fall apart.

The news of his death came only a week after James told me that his orders have changed and he will be going to Afghanistan this spring.

I'm feeling so many emotions right now. Sadness being the forefront, but fear tagging along right behind.

I almost feel bad, selfish, that in the midst of this family's sadness, I can't help but think about myself and my family.

I'm not stupid. I know that in war, people die. Until today, however, it didn't really seem real. Now all of a sudden, it feels like this could happen to us. All of a sudden this is something ugly that I need to face.

All day I've been looking at Sam and seeing his Daddy's face in all of his little features. How would I cope if all of a sudden I were a single parent? These are all thoughts that have crossed my mind before. Before I said 'yes' to marrying a Marine, these were things I needed to consider, but now they're all of a sudden not just thoughts to consider, but a very possible reality to face.

All I want to do right now is to curl up inside my husband's arms, but my heart aches when I think of my friend who would love to do the same thing, but can't and won't ever again.

This past week, I've been busy preparing for James' upcoming deployment. Finding an apartment for Sam and I in PA near my parent's house. Coming up with care package themes and ways to help Sam remember who Daddy is. Taking notes in a 5 subject notebook, making lists and keeping organized, telling myself that I'll come up with plenty of ways to make the time go by quickly.

I can't even look at that notebook now. I want to pretend that James isn't going anywhere. That we'll grieve our fallen friend together, but that we won't have to imagine this ever happening to us. But we can't do that. We need to face this. We've never really talked about this possibility because he was supposed to be starting a non deployable job that would last until the end of this enlistment. It wasn't on our radar. Since we found out that he's deploying, we've talked about how we will communicate, how he will stay in touch with Sam, where Sam and I will live, the logistics of moving, but we haven't mentioned what will happen if the worst should happen. After today, I know that it's something we need to talk about. Most likely, one of us will bring it up this evening.

It's hard when you have to face facts and realize that your worst nightmare is capable of coming true. I pray every single night that I will never have to face what my friend is facing right now. I pray every single night that Sam will never have to be without his Daddy.

And tonight I'll pray for the soul of a fallen hero, and for healing and love on his wife and family.

Rest in Peace Marine, and thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice.