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:
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.