I lay awake in bed alone, listening to the quiet of the house, looking at the picture of my husband sitting on our dresser and missing him, and realizing just how empty the night feels without him. The only sound coming from our room is the sound of our dog, Molly, snoring away on her cozy bed in the floor.
The past few days have been such a whirlwind. I am exhausted, completely exhausted but it is two in the morning and I can't sleep.
Monday we said our goodbyes at the airport. I don't have any pictures from that day, but I don't need them. I remember all the goodbyes, they keep playing over and over in my head.
I'll never forget seeing Jerome holding both of our girls in his arms and hearing them sobbing telling him they will miss him. I won't forget how he tried to not cry but couldn't hold it back while holding them.
I'll never forget how Spencer stood strong like a grown man,hugging his dad and trying to be brave. I remember seeing him watch his dad leave, walk through a gate knowing that he won't see him for another year.
I remember the excitement I felt when the man at the ticket counter gave me a pass to go through security with Jerome so that I can see him off on his flight. And how that pass in my hand felt like such an amazing gift.
I remember Jerome, with his arms around me giving me a last kiss while the speaker was calling the final boarding call.
I remember watching him walk away.
I remember turning and not wanting to leave. I just wanted to stand there in that moment....just for a minute more. I remember the heaviness I felt in my heart as I walked away, up the stairs and down the long hall, further and further away from the plane that the man I love was sitting in waiting for take off.
I remember as I walked down that long hall how each step felt so very lonely. Each and every step was a reminder to me that I am alone now, that it is all up to me to carry on everything at home. That this day I have been dreading for months has finally made its way into our lives. Each and every step hurt, it hurt to walk away.
I remember trying to hold it together as I walked through the doors to where our family and friends waited. I couldn't hold it. My son, my wonderful son put his arms around me and I cried. My tears were rolling and he was the strength I needed at that moment.
The rest of the day I tried to stay busy but in reality I was just numbing the pain that was tearing at my heart.
That night as I climbed into bed I laid there for a minute looking around at our dark, empty bedroom. Then I rolled over onto his pillow, the smell of his pillow brought all of my emotions to the surface. I cried into his pillow missing him so much.
Then there was a knock at the door. It was Katie, her eyes were filled with tears, she looked at me and said, "Mommy....I miss daddy". I pulled the covers down and she climbed into bed. Then I pulled out the book we had made for them for when they were missing their daddy. She opened the book and her daddy's recorded voice started reading the book "Under The Same Moon" to her. She let him read the book to her three times that night. She snuggled beside me and said, "Mommy, I like that book. It makes me feel like daddy is here".
Tuesday morning we all slept in. I knew our kids needed a day to be able to deal with their emotions before going back to school. The girls were doing good, considering, but Spencer didn't want to get out of bed. He told me he didn't feel good so I let him stay in bed....I thought he was just upset about his dad leaving. Later I told him to get dressed, that I was taking them all to get some lunch and get out of the house to get some fresh air. I thought it would do Spencer some good.
While we were out I realized that he really wasn't feeling good. We quickly came back home and he went back to bed. Jerome called us from Skype later that evening and I had Natalie go wake Spencer up so that he could talk to his dad, hoping that it would cheer him up a bit and make him feel a little better.
He came in and sat down beside me. I could feel the heat from his body just by him sitting close to me, I knew he had to be running a high fever. He talked to Jerome for a minute then bent his head down to type something on the computer and he grabbed the back of his neck in pain. I immediately took his temperature and it was 103.2. Then Jerome said, "Take him to the ER right now" through Skype, he didn't have to tell me, I was already yelling at the girls to grab their shoes. I called my neighbor who knew the instant she answered the phone something was wrong. I felt so bad dropping our girls off at my neighbors in such a rush. Her husband opened the door and I basically said, "Here's my girls, thanks for keeping them on such short notice. Oh and by the way.....here is two cans of soup....I hadn't had a chance to fix dinner yet, I'll call you from the ER and let you know what is going on".
After a long night in the ER (not from waiting though, they took us back immediately)and many tests later including a spinal tap I was told that Spencer had viral meningitis (of which I already knew seeing we just went through this in October with Katie). We were able to go home though, with instructions of quarantine, lots of fluids and plenty of alternating motrin and tylenol. We pulled back into our driveway around two in the morning.
Today has been a struggle for Spencer. He has been in pain but not the extreme pain I saw Katie go through. His fever keeps spiking and he is completely sick of drinking gatorade. I know though in a few days he will feel a bit better.
Friends have asked to keep Natalie and Katie. They know that I don't want either of them to get sick with meningitis. Katie is staying at her friend Sydney's and Natalie at Emily's. I am so very thankful that their moms offered to keep them, in hopes to keep them well. That is a friend, someone to step in and help in a time of need, and I am very thankful for it.
Spencer was able to talk to Jerome this evening on Skype. He was awake long enough to talk to his dad and then fell back asleep.
And so here I am. The first quiet time I have had in these past few days. The first time I have felt like I'm not spinning in a whirlwind. And the first time I have had a moment to feel the feelings I feel about this deployment. Sometimes the quiet isn't wonderful. Sometimes the lack of a whirlwind life isn't wonderful. Sometimes you miss the little bits of life that somedays get overlooked until you don't have them anymore.
But, the end of today just means that we are one day closer to Jerome coming back home. And even though it is past two in the morning, I can't sleep and am missing my husband....I know that I am strong. I know that our kids our strong. I know that their daddy is strong. I know that we can make it through this whether we have whirlwind days or quiet days that go by, each day that we make it through is one day closer to a wonderful homecoming.
When you read this Jerome, know that I am glad that you made it safely to where you are at now, even though I'd rather have you here with us. I love and miss you so much.