Today I wore my red bracelet and it’s not even Friday. You know R.E.D. is the perfect acronym for Remember Everyone Deployed and somehow that acronym became attached to Fridays…as in red Fridays. So people wear red to show their support and remembrance of our troops deployed to places we can only imagine.
But today is not Friday and I felt compelled to wear that bracelet anyway. Because I not only remembered that you were gone, I felt your absence like a bad nightmare I can’t seem to wake up from. I felt it all the way in my bones… so much so that I ached with memories of you.
The hauntingly eerie silence of this house seems so loud to me and I can’t run away from it fast enough. No matter where I run I see you…at our favorite coffee shop trying to decide whether to order something hot or something cold, in the seat next to me on the way to church, on our couch where we’ve spent so many nights just cuddling in silence watching mindless tv. You are everywhere and nowhere and it frustrates me to the point of madness.
Some days I’m okay and I can leave that bracelet on the counter until Friday. I can lock up tight the tears and emotions that dwell within me and every other spouse waiting for their soldier. I can actually be a highly functioning adult most days and complete everything on my to-do-list. Those days I am proud and so grateful for this life we live.
Other days I pray for strength to get out of bed. I fight off listening to or reading about another news article of another life lost to a war that seems to go on forever. I have to remember to breathe on these days because ever since you’ve left I find it harder and harder to take a deep breath. Instead I’m left with little bouts of oxygen…just enough to survive but not enough to really live. It’s a slow agonizing type of pain. You would think I’d be used to it by now since this isn’t our first deployment and it’s more than likely not our last, but it doesn’t get easier with each deployment and it definitely doesn’t get easier with each passing day. Like, I said…some days all I can do is get out of bed and that will have to be enough on those days.
But today I have decided that it won’t be one of those “other” days. So, instead of focusing on the panic attack rising within me I’m going to put on this red bracelet and cling to it with every fiber of my being. I’m going to remember you and what you’re doing, what you’re fighting for, and how proud you are of your job. I’m going to look forward to your phone calls and messages. And I’m going to try my best to live and not just survive…and I can do this because of that red bracelet.