So I looked in my folders, I don't have anything quite from January 2011 that has me in it (as I've come to notice I'm usually the one behind the camera as opposed to in front of it) so you're going to have to settle with February 2011.
This moment is especially hard for me, with everything that has gone on in my life this year looking back and thinking about the moments leading up to a deployment, get me every time.
Instead of dwelling on the negative of the past, this is about the picture.
It was February 6, 2011. Super Bowl Sunday. The Steelers were playing the Packers. Back up a few hours. The Little had been fussy, so we'd been napping while Dennis was off at the gym and then had made a Commissary run to pick up stuff for dinner. The house was dark when he came home, I actually think the Little and I were napping on the couch.
I heard him come in, set the groceries on the table and pause. I shifted slightly on the couch assuming he was going to tell me they were out of one of the few necessary items we'd need for dinner that evening.
What's wrong?We'd been waiting for the day he'd deploy for weeks, but at that point in time it wasn't until just before Valentine's Day, we had a week. A week I was banking on to get myself into the right mindset. There was so much we still had to do before he left, make a trip to Trier together so we could pick up gummy bears, he was going to record a few books for Kaylin so I could play them for her as she grew up, we hadn't gotten a good talk about everything in either.
I've got some news.
News? What do you mean, news?
They moved my deployment date.I tried to sound hopeful, I was secretly praying it'd be after Valentine's Day. Anytime after Valentine's Day. Even though I don't like to actually get roses and go out to eat, it'd be nice to spend that day together.
Yeah? When do you leave?
I got the call at 1500, if I don't hear back from my sergeant by 1700, I leave tomorrow.Honestly I'm pretty sure my heart fell to the floor. The Little's 13 pounds (maybe) felt like a ton on my chest. I wasn't prepared for this moment, he was going to go so soon.
We'd be invited to head to some friend's to watch the Super Bowl, but being in selfish freak out mode, I told Dennis we'd be staying in and spend the last night as a family in the comfort of our own home. He didn't object, but about 20 minutes later I asked him if he had really wanted to go. Naturally he said he did, so I apologized for being selfish and we made the arrangements to head out the door.
This picture was taken at that party, it was probably close to 12 am at this point. The Super Bowl usually doesn't start until around then because of the time difference. I was emotionally unprepared and completely exhausted but I was determined to get a ton of good pictures of us. It was our last moments together for a year, I was not going to waste one moment.
We stayed until around 1:30, I couldn't bring myself to stay up all night. I needed to lay in our bed and snuggle one last time. We crawled into bed and I cried to myself silently for a while. I knew I had to be strong for us, for the Little and for me. The 5 am alarm came all too soon, and I peeled myself out of the bed in full zombie mode.
I poured myself coffee, made the Little a bottle and got ready to take Dennis to his company. The sun wasn't up when we got there, and the buses were waiting for them outside. We stayed a few hours and chatted with the First Sergeant, and I busied myself with tasks to make the time go faster for the day. Then the words came, "Time to load up." We took one last picture, kissed and he promised he'd come home. I waved goodbye and got into the car doing all I could to keep from crying.
The day is still a blur, I remember taking a new wife to get her ID card and show her around a bit before I headed home. I couldn't face everything yet, so I made plans to walk to the post office with my friend Correna. Shockingly it was a nice February day, and we walked all our stresses off. Dinner came in the form of a cheeseburger from Burger King and with a prayer I headed up my 7 flights of stairs to my empty home, for the first of many nights.
Does being a military wife have its advantages, yes. But nothing can prepare a person for those moments. This picture is one of the last times I remember being absolutely terrified but completely happy at the same time.