Rest and Relaxation

Two weeks earlier I was at this same place with our three children. We each held red, white, and blue balloons tied to dying sunflowers. I only wanted to see my husband, to feel him beneath my hands, to hear him say my name.

After what seemed like hours I saw our oldest daughter run for the gate, her brother and sister followed, teary-eyed but smiling.

I stood to the side and waited my turn, my hands itching to touch him. When the time came I lost the ability to speak. I buried my face in his neck and breathed in deep the smell of him.

For two weeks I watched him when he was unaware. I found every opportunity to touch his arm, his back, kiss his scruffy cheek and run my fingers through the wavy hair which he had allowed to come back in. I listened to his footsteps as he walked through our home. I woke during the night to move my foot to the right side of the bed, just to feel him there. For two weeks I took nothing for granted.

I tried not to pay attention to the days, the hours, the way the hands on the clock moved so fast, but even for those so deserving, time would not stand still. After what seemed like minutes, I have returned to this place.

For an hour he tells me that six months is nothing, that time will fly by. I know better. I know what lies ahead are six months of uncertainty and bargaining with God.

I touch his face and wish it was late enough to feel his evening beard. I lay my head on his shoulder and pick at the patches on his uniform, feeling both hatred and pride.

There is a call made. He hugs me tight and whispers all the things I need to hear, things I will recall late that night while lying in bed, unable to sleep, my feet reaching out to find nothing.

I hurry to find a quiet place to watch him lift off, and when I wipe away the tears he has disappeared into the blue.

Returning home I find the children in their rooms, sad with swollen eyes, and I assure them, yet again, with uncertain promises.  

On our bed I notice the shirt he took off only hours before. I pick it up, bury my face into it and breathe in deep the smell of him. I feel the familiar and necessary numbness creep back in and know that life is back to as it was before rest and relaxation.

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