D-Day (7 months)

I've been thinking a lot about the day he left today. Today marks 7 months since I last touched him, saw him in the flesh, kissed, hugged, held him. I really didn't expect the guys to be coming home until late July early August, I was definitely a prepare for the worst and rejoice if they're home earlier gal, but as more and more buses roll in, reality continues to strike that he's not on any of them. So, I've been thinking a lot about the last day I saw him, exactly 7 months from today.

While he was deployed, I blogged the time he'd been gone in parenthesese (just recapping for those of you who are newer), so this title is reminiscent of those days I was counting up (and down but as per OPSEC I didn't let anyone in on my countdown).

My post from December 8, 2009 says this:
Day Zero (Did That Just Happen?)

So I hugged him and kissed him, Told him I love him and that I'd miss him.

And then I sent him off to war.

I'm pretty sure there are parts of me that are missing now. Nothing feels right.
Stay at home by myself? Go to a friends house? Go back to Maryland?
I can't decide because nothing feels right at all.

Attempting to watch 12 Men of Christmas, maybe I'll just pass out from sheer exhaustion.

Prayers/well wishes/good thoughts please.

Oh how those feelings reoccur now in widowhood. If I thought part of me was missing then, I had no idea. Let me think back on that last day though, all the moments I can remember...

You didn't have to be there until later. I think we left our house sometime around noonish, but I'm not certain. I was allowed to come with you, something very rare for an armorer. I had baked cookies the night before - Snickerdoodles, your favorite. I knew you'd be sitting at Cherry Point for a while and I wanted to make sure you had a snack. I packed them in a ziploc bag.

I'd spent the night before holding on to you for dear life. That morning too. Holding you as close to me as I possibly could. The thought of letting you go, watching you leave, ate my heart away, but I knew I would go and I would be as strong as I possibly could for you. I was fully aware that I was one of the forces behind the forces.

I cried when we were intimate and you told me not to be sad. That it wouldn't be that long until we were together again. And we laughed about what "it" would be like when you got back. I held your hand tighter than I ever had, I clutched onto the "meaty part" my favorite part that I always seemed to grab.

We left the house and road pretty quietly on to base. I fought back my tears as much as I could. I wasn't ready to say "See ya later." Although we knew for a while this day was coming, the reality of it was sickening. As we pulled close to the armory, Lady Gaga's Bad Romance came on. We had grown some weird love obsession with this song and we both laughed and did the Ra Ra's and acted like idiots. We laughed and sang and danced in our truck. We shared our last happy moments.

We sat in the armory for hours, what felt like years. You enjoyed your cookies and shared them with the guys. They were gone before we even left the armory. We talked with the guys and there was the buzz of anticipation mixed with sadness and a little fear although none of you would admit it. SSgt's son drew him pictures in paint on the computer and wrote " Dear Dad please don't die" as the caption. I remember telling you you weren't allowed on convoys. They terrified me. I said Jonny Porto, no convoys for you, you're going to be in a nice personal hole with a bubble around you and personal guards. It had been our joke all the way up to deployment. Of course I knew you'd have to ride in convoys, how else would you get from place to place? I'm not stupid, it was just our joke. That Sgt called you out and told you not to tell me you wouldn't be on convoys and you told him I knew and that it was just our little saying. Obviously you weren't going to be in a personal bubble and guard protected hole and you'd have to get from place to place by way of convoy - but a girl can dream, right?

One of your friends showed a neat tactical light and said you HAD to have it, so we went to the 7 day store to grab some drinks and then to the Annex to find the light. You thanked me for buying it for you and I said something about I'd get anything to keep you safe. Before we walked in to the store, we passed an officer (Captain, I believe, I don't quite remember) and you saluted. He said Welcome Back! (sleeves were down so it's easy to tell you were either coming or going) and you said No, sir just leaving today. And he said Very well, stay safe and see you soon. We got back to the armory and the other companies were drawing weapons. I got in trouble for yelling out the window trying to find a friend's husband to let her know if he was over at the armory yet or not... oops.

After everyone else got their weapons, you guys drew yours and we headed over to the main battalion building where everyone was just standing around. You added your gear minus the pack you'd be carrying with you to the sea of tan and green. A while later, we realized that you'd probably want your fleece and hunted until we found your pack in the said sea to get it out.

There was a tent with chips and hot chocolate and I got us some. It was freezing and the FRO gave me her wind breaker to put over my hoodie, since it was the only outer wear I'd thought to grab - hey it was warm when we left the house - and I was in flip flops (as usual). You kissed me on my forehead more times than I could count and we took a couple photos. I didn't want to take many photos because I didn't want to think back on such a sad day, I was more focused on taking photos at homecoming - the happy ones. I hadn't worn makeup that day because I knew it would just run all over leaving me looking more of a mess. You knelt down and talked to Ariana. You told her to take care of me and that you'd be home soon. You told her that you loved her and couldn't wait to hold her, that it wouldn't be long. I couldn't shake the sadness, I didn't want you to leave. No Marine wife (milwife) likes watching her husband leave, but this first time was almost unbearable.

All of a sudden, First Sargeant started yelling FORM IT UP FORM IT UP FORM IT UP!!! You gave me a quick peck, grabbed your carry on and rifle and headed over to the field and stood in formation. I thought to myself Is that it?! That's all I get?? You're leaving... Now? It's happening?? The anxiety began, hardcore. I asked you if you'd be back over before getting on the bus and you said probably not, that's why you had your stuff. I watched you stand in formation. My chest was tight and I fought the urge to run to you. Then formation broke and as you assumed, you all started walking away from where I stood - to the buses. My body filled with terror. What about my final see ya later? My final hug and kiss? That wasn't enough! I saw a couple people walking towards you guys and I walk/ran/waddled after them. I caught you before you got on. Thank God, I caught you. I held you so tight and I didn't want to let go. You told me that I had to. You told me that you'd be fine and it wouldn't be so bad, you'd be home soon. You told me you loved me, Forever and ever. You kissed me and you walked up the stairs.

You got a window seat and I stood there clutching the only thing I had - a ginormous LeBleu water bottle we'd gotten at the 7 day store earlier that day. You made the I Love You hand sign to me and I made it back to you. Tears streamed down both our cheeks. I would have done anything to keep you here. I told you "head down, ass lower" in some crazy sign and we laughed through our tears. You told me over and over through the window I Love You. I said it back. I clutched the bottle. I shivered. I couldn't feel the cold anymore, I could feel the loneliness setting in.

The Battalion CO came over and talked to me. He'd known me because of my involvement in Family Readiness. He put his arm around my shoulders and said Take care of yourself. I said Take care of my Marine and laughed a little. We said see you soon and he left to say good bye to his own family and get on his bus.

I watched the buses roll away. I couldn't move from that spot until your bus was totally gone. I was frozen, watching you leave.

Confusion set in and I wandered my way up to the FRO's office, not sure what to do next. I was alone, you were gone, off to war.

Alana came and picked me up. She took me to her house and made me eat. She knew I had to eat, if not for me then for baby girl. Eddie and I talked about your job since you wouldn't really tell me exactly what you would be doing. Like everyone, he assured me that I shouldn't worry, that you might have to go on convoys (my worst fear) but that you wouldn't be going out on patrols. I am thankful to him for talking so openly with me. Of course I still worried, but it helped me remain strong for you while you were gone. I am thankful that he told me what it is you do while you're there and I am thankful for such good friends who took me in the night you left. When I felt collected enough Alana took me back to the armory and I picked up your truck and headed home.

When I got there, some more of Ariana's nursery furniture had arrived and I had to maneuver it and my rotund self through the door at the same time. My first challenge as a deployment wife, which I succeeded at. Then, I sat on the couch, I stood up, I sat down, I stood up. I wandered the house. I looked at some dirty laundry you'd left on the bathroom floor and I cried. I called mom and cried. I cried and felt lost. I thought of going to a friend's but I didn't want to leave the house. I didn't want to be there alone, I didn't want to be anywhere else either.

I slept on the couch that night and for nights to come. I left that laundry for days, maybe even weeks. I felt completely lost.

I think back to those feelings now and they're not much different from how I feel day-to-day. Sometimes when I think back to those first few nights, the anxiety strikes again. I remember how scared and lonely and worried and confused I was and it strikes a chord and sets off a panic attack. This isn't temporary anymore and I fear these lost feelings will never be shaken.

I miss you Jonny Porto, I miss you more than it can be put into words. 7 months is hard without seeing you, 4 months is hard not hearing from you in any way, knowing that you're gone, and the rest of my life is so long to wait. But I will see you again baby. It's always see you later, never goodbye.


  1. I've been following you for several months now... and this blog really got to me. My husband is in the middle of his second tour in Iraq and reading your play by play of the day you said goodbye to your husband was almost like a mirror of my goodbyes to my husband. I needed the reminder, I needed a good cry too.

    Thank you for sharing this. You are strong and brave... and I am grateful that you choose to share your story on your blog.


    Betsy E.
    Fort Lewis, WA

  2. Oh Mrs. P, your story breaks my heart over and over again. I feel so bad and how I wish I could do something to help you.

  3. Rachel,
    What a beautiful blog for Jon. He loves you. He is in your heart, your baby's laugh, and is always with you! Thank you so much for letting us in your life! Thank you for sharing your Marine with us!

  4. Oh sweet gril, I don't know you and can't imagine your world, but you're in my prayers.

  5. OMG. So I am at work crying. Not sure why I read your blog here since I cry almost everytime. I have never commented before but you are an AMAZING writer. My heart aches for you through your words. May your husband rest in peace. My your daughter be always blessed. Stay strong girl. Thanking of you.
    Shelly O'Reilly

  6. I'm sending lots of prayers/well wishes/good thoughts your way.

    Mrs. P, you're an amazing writer. Through your posts, I can tell what an amazing, remarkable, special, one-of-a-kind man your husband was, and what a remarkable, special, strong, gracious person you are too. People like you and people like your husband are the backbone of this country. I wish nobody had to make the sacrifice you and your husband have had to make. But thank you for showing the rest of us what love, honor and courage look like.

  7. I'm crying...again. Mrs. P, I know there are no words anyone can say to ease your pain, but I wanted to say thank you for continuing to write...every time I read your blog, I remember to cherish every single day with my soldier. You and your daughter are still in my prayers.

  8. Every single detail of this was perfectly worded. It makes me want to record each and every perfect detail of events such as this.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. I remember that post from December- I just went and looked at my commment too.
    I dont like this one bit for you. xoxoxo

  10. (((HUGS))) to you...my Marine leaves very soon (emphasis on the VERY part) and you've put into words the hell that a deployment good-bye brings. We've done this 6 times before, and I'm still feel like I'm going to puke at the mere thought of it again. Even though I don't know you, as always, I wish there was something I could do, or say, so that you would not have to feel this way right now. Just know that a fellow Marine wife is here at Lejeune, admiring your strength, and crying a tear or two with you.

  11. This saddens my heart and I think about you and your family a lot .. I wish I could sit down and give you a real life hug, but cyber hugs for now I guess .. Just know you have a hug support network out here and we love you!

  12. Sitting here reading this at work trying not to cry :(

    I've been reading this blog for awhile, and I think it's great that you have this whole digital memory book of your life together. I know the pain will always be with you but I hope that in time, you find peace. You are so ridiculously strong I can't even believe it.

  13. I think many of us wives have felt that way...especially the day they leave. I'm so sorry for everything you are going through. I don't think I can ever say this enough. I really wish there was something any of us could do to take this pain away for you. We are all given our struggles in life for a reason. I don't know what those reasons are but I pray and hope there is a plan. I know you will get through this. It will never not hurt. You will never stop missing him. You carry him in your heart and that's what counts. ((hugs))

  14. I've been following you for a while, and this post really got to me. You are a strong woman and my heart goes out to you. This was so beautifully written that I'm sitting here shaking.

    While there's nothing anyone can say to make it better, I did come across this little piece when my dad was in hospice and it brought me comfort.

    "I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads his white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. He is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch him until at length he hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

    Then someone at my side says: “There, he is gone!”

    “Gone where?”

    Gone from my sight. That is all. He is just as large in mast and hull and spar as he was when he left my side and he is just as able to bear the load of living freight to his destined port.

    His diminished size is in me, not in him. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, he is gone!” There are other eyes watching him coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here he comes!”

    And that is dying.

  15. Oh sweety, your story has me in tears
    sending hugs and prayers your way

  16. your story broke my heart when i first came across it, now im hooked on your blog, its so heart breaking. my husband will be leaving in just a few months on our first deployment and it scares me more then anything that he wont come back. i dont knon what its like to lose a husband but i lost my father to cancer when i was 15. i couldnt wven begin to think about losing my husband, specaily while he was gone, you and your daughter are in my prayers. i hope you find peace one day.

  17. You are a Marine Wife, you take your breath, you cry, you hurt way down deep in places only your gold star sisters and brothers know about. You will pick yourself up, you will hug that little girl and you will honor your husband every single day as you have been. You will have a lot of first, a lot of milestones, and each will bring with it it's own feelings, feel them...let them sink in, deal with them how only you will know how. You are loved by those that don't know your story, by the family of thousands that mourn for your Jonny. Please know that. (((((HUGS)))))) and at the next going away when my hubs yells "form it up, form it up" I will ask him for another minute in honor of you and Jonny.

  18. Ugh. This post brought me back to when Michael deployed back in 2008. Deployments were easy, nothing compared to this. I would go through 100 more deployments in order to be with him again. Essentially that's what I am doing now, but it's easier to say it this way. I love you girl! We will finally meet in August. Until then, keep your head up and kiss your baby girl for me.

  19. I love your blog, I love how honest you are, how brave, how real. I would love to meet you, hug you, be there for you. I loved this post I'm glad you absorbed every bit of this day yes it was sad but I'm so glad you have all of it in your memory to look back on.

  20. Mrs. P, I read your blog every day and every day I pray for you to have extra strength. Stay strong.

  21. I can only offer you words of comfort, as little as that seems..so many hugs for you and your sweet baby girl. It's not right that this happens..

  22. Girl, this post had me bawling like a baby. :( I don't know what else to say other than I think of you every day and your family is on my heart and in my prayers.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  23. Whenever I hear that you've posted, I get excited, I can't lie.

    I know that they're not always happy, but I still get excited. Why? Because you are an amazing writer, and I know that no matter what you write, it's going to come out beautifully. I know that when others read your writing, it's going to give them strength they never knew they had, to get through whatever troubles they are going through with their lives.

    God knows you've given me more than you'll ever know.

  24. I love this and hate you for writing it at the same time because I'm sitting here thinking about my upcoming day of saying "see you later" and I'm crying a little harder than I'd like to be right now for you, for me, for every wife who has to say see you later.
    Thank you for writing it though. Hugs as always.

  25. I just want to say thank you for sharing your story. You are so brave to continue sharing. What a beautiful heart you must have.

  26. my word.
    a friend introduced me to you blog today. and posted a link to this post.

    I sit here alone on my bed bawling for you, your daughter, and your love.

    You're an amazing woman mrs.p.
    may the lors bless your ever loving heart.

    my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    <3 mrs.rotty.

  27. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3!!! Head up pretty girl! Huge hugs to you and Ari!! <3 you!!

  28. Thank you for sharing your heart and your love for your husband. It is so real and so tender, and it's apparent you are truly writing from your heart. You are in my heart, and when you come to mind I always say a few words of prayer for you - for peace, hope, and love.

  29. Oh my goodness, that was sooo... sad reading. Not realizing those were your last moments. Thank you for sharing with us. You and your daughter are always in my thoughts and prayers.....


  30. Another beautiful, yet heartbreaking, post. Thoughts and prayers are with you today and every day!

  31. GIRL, why did I start my day with your blog? (lol) I just said goodbye to the hubby (from R&R) two days ago, almost exact to the time as I write this (0833 hrs). I held it in, like you did, and then all of a sudden I realized it was time for him to check in and go through screening. We rushed to say our goodbyes so we didn't cry, no go on that for me. I walked out, kids trailing behind me like a mother duck with her chicks. I had never had to say goodbye at the airport alone and I knew it would be hard. Every new blog you post I cry for you, I cry with you, I cry in fear that I will be in the position you are in. I hate the fear, it's the worst part. BUT, I also see how you have grown and I am proud of you for being able to be so honest with the ups and downs of your loss. It will never be "easy" but it your new "normal" will come one day. You are a strong woman living in an extraordinary time in your life. Your writings are helping others learn how to deal with grief, and I commend you on that. Keep your chin up, you are doing a great job!

  32. This post really got to me as I just said "see ya later" to my hubby. You are in my prayers!!

    {huge hugs for you and your little girl}

  33. I am left without words, sitting at work trying not to cry. All I can think is that Jonny would be proud of you for how strong, brave, and wonderful you are. I have never met you but I can already see it, I know that all of your readers see it too. You keep going Mrs. P. He's smiling down on you and the woman that you are, and he's proud of that! I will keep you and your beautiful little girl in my prayers!

  34. http://stuffnoonetoldme.blogspot.com/

    Don't know if you've ever seen this but there are some things on here that you might like!

  35. cried and cried at this post. I too am a Marine wife stationed here at Camp Lejeune. My husband is infantry and we have not had our first deployment yet. I cling to your blog and read your posts with absolute fear and empathy. I am so sorry Rachel, those words dont even begin to express my feelings for you! If you ever want to meet up and coach me into being a prepared let a sister know! Semper Fi

  36. That was a very well written post. It brought up so many emotions for me. I had almost forgot what it felt like to say see you later to my soldier. I remember the being gone but part but I had forgotten the good-bye. Thank you for the reminder.

    As always you and your daughter are in my thoughts and prayers.

  37. Oh it hurts to read this blog.. more so than the others.. My heart aches for you. I can only imagine the pain. I have been following your blog for quite some time and let me tell you, if anything, you are reminding your followers to cherish every.single.day with their significant other. You are such a brave woman and your daughter will be grateful for that one day! Keep on keepin' on!

  38. Rachel,
    I think I have said this multiple time, but seriously you need to write a book. You have so much to share and you are a beautiful writer.
    I think of you and Baby A often. Hugs!

  39. Its wonderful that you are able to remember everything in such detail. I love your openness and rawness in your writing. Thank you so much for sharing. Loves!

  40. mrs. p, i wrote you a facebook message a little while back...after grad school i pray that you decide to write a book!!! :) hugs, blessings, and prayers. thinking of you always

  41. I wish so, so much that you do not have to go through any of this. Although I've never met you, you are always in my thoughts. You are so strong and are truly an inspiration. Hang in there, girl! Just know that your hubby is surrounding you with lots of love!

  42. Mrs. P, this made me cry hysterically.
    My heart is breaking for you.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you, as they are always.

    Semper Fi, love.


  43. I've followed you for a while now- but I don't think I've ever posted. All your posts always make me tear up- this one I couldn't fight it anymore... I had streams running down.

    I know there is nothing I can say- or no words that can be expressed to take away your pain or console you. Please know your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

  44. Major big lump in my throat. I only could imagine how you feel. I pray for easing of your pain. Remember to feel him in the wind, rain and the sun shining on your face.

  45. Ok, wow. I cry so much reading your blog. This took me back to Tom's first deployment and I can relate to those feelings. I can relate to many of your feelings and I am so sorry that either of us or any of us must face these hard times. You think that saying goodbye on the day of deployment is the hardest day you will ever face, the real hardest day occurs (and those that follow). It made me really sad for you to read how he talked to your daughter and told her to take care of you. I still think that deployment days are some of my worst, even now. You are amazing to be able to relive it even now.

  46. Mrs. P you will see Mr. P again! I simply love your in depth feelings. How you express exactly how you felt at that time. (((hugs)))

  47. i've been reading your posts for months, and my heart just breaks for you all over again. i shake my head as i read thinking, "this can't be real. he's coming home. he HAS to." i can only imagine that you are thinking the same thing. i'm so sorry that you are having to go through this as such a young military wife and momma.
    you are in my thoughts and prayers often.

  48. I have no words....just emotion.


  49. I cried so much reading this that Hubby made me read it to him because he demanded to know what was pulling such emotion from me.

    And then he went silent.
    Thank you for reminding us to hold each other close when we say our goodbyes.

    You are so strong, Mrs. P.

  50. I have been crying now for 15 minutes plus! I lost two family members last week and couldn't imagine what I would do if I lost my hubby too. You will see him again..and continue your lives as if it never had a break. Keep your chin up!

    I went in my dirty clothes hamper the day my hubby left..grabbed his smelly ol PT shirt and put it on. It was a mixture of old spice and his cologne with a hint of his own smell. I know you know that smell our men have. I wore it for about three weeks until it lost his smell and then found another shirt. I think I had a few of his clothes left just to keep him around....I know it sounds strange but it helped me.

    God Bless you and your family!

  51. i follow your blog, but can VERY rarely bring myself to read it. i can never even get through half of a blog entry before i'm crying. every now and then though, i sit and read one (i can never get through more than one) entry...and so here i sit...after midnight...when i should've packed my husband's lunch for work tomorrow and be in bed already...crying for you.

    i hope that you and your baby girl will be blessed! i know your Marine is smiling down on you each and every day.

  52. Whenever I read your posts I always wish I had something to say. All I can give is my love and my prayers. God be with you girl, stay strong, and know you were the best thing your man could ever have and he loves you!

  53. I discovered your blog after listening to your story on National Public Radio. I was first drawn to you by your heartfelt story of losing your Marine Husband. I too, am now married (as of 6-26-10) to an Army reservist, although we spent 2 of his 5 years in the Army together. He was deployed when I started pen palling him and the rest is history. Then I was drawn to read your blog after hearing you are entering grad school to be a counselor. I am a licensed therapist in Oklahoma and what a gift you will be to our career field. I work with military every second I can and love it. I know you will be great at your job because you are already great at being a mom and wife. You are a gift sweet lady. Press on and know that your husband loves you and always will. Thank you for your story.
    Ashley in OKC

  54. I remember coming across your blog many, many months ago. I haven't come across it since. As I was googling something today I recognized the name and I read you're blog post in March. I am so sorry for your loss. After reading your blog and especially this post I am crying and my heart goes out to you. I am a former Marine Wife who has been through 3 deployments. I can remember feeling all of these same feelings every.single.time I had to say goodbye to my Marine. I can't imagine what you've gone through though... You seem like a strong woman and a wonderful mommy. My prayers and thoughts will be with you...

  55. This is without a doubt the most heart-wrenching blog I've ever read. I've literally got tears streaming down my face. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  56. Mrs P, your story strikes such a cord in me, i hope you and your daughter are doing good, i soo wish i could be there for you. be safe and remember the rest of your marine corp family is behind you!
    Semper Fi
    Patsy, Victorea and JR
    Okinawa Japan

  57. I am new to your blog. As I'm sure you've heard many times before, I have tears streaming down my face as I read your posts, especially this one. Your honesty with your feelings and description of all the events is amazing. My heart breaks for you and your daughter. Thank you for allowing your husband to serve our country, he is a hero.

  58. Mrs.P, my heart is broken, my tears are flowing. You are an inspiration as you tell your story. It mirrors many that I know. Saying goodbye is the worst, because no one has a guarantee their man is coming home. IT SUCKS and I am so sorry it was your man. He is a true hero and so are you. My heart breaks for your daughter and the dad she will never meet. She missed out on an amazing man...hopefully his legacy will outlive him and she will know him through the stories told of him....through your love. I continue to admire you and pray for you.

  59. I came across your blog last month, and I just now read this post. My heart breaks at the thought of what you went through, the pain you must have felt. I also find myself full of respect and pride for you, for having the strength to continue on with your life, knowing you will see your husband again, and for having the courage to share your story with others. Lean on the Lord and He will strengthen you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  60. I wanted you to know that I am linking to this exact post in my blog because I find it (You) very inspirational. It's amazing that you can find the strength to carry on with your life. It's people like you & your husband & daughter that make the ultimate sacrifice for our country and I think that more people should be aware of it.


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