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Iraq Through the Eyes of A Wife
Iraq Through the Eyes of A Wife
We all have moments that define who we are as human beings...this is my story;
I remember the day my husband left for war with a vividness that I suppose will never leave me. It was February 2003, 2 weeks after our wedding day where we were married in the same church that I was baptized in as a child. Our wedding was a lavish affair with all of our friends and family, as well as our Marine Corps family in attendance. The day was full of all the usual festivities of such a time, yet it was my "bittersweet day" as I will always refer to
2-15-03. Our wedding day was bittersweet because I had just married a man whom I'm content to refer to as my soalmate. Yet I would have to say goodbye to him just as fast as I had married him.
Consequently, my wedding day is when I married into my other family as well...my Marine Corps family that is. Anyone who knows a Marine knows that the Corps is a never ending brotherhood/sisterhood in which you can never leave, not even if you retire or even if you physically leave. You will never be referred to as an EX-Marine...you are always a Former Marine. Everyone knows that the Corps is deep into traditions, some that are even mysterious, and others us "civilians" will never be allowed to know about. I fell in love with my Marine Corps family instantly.
In February 2003 the way the world was gearing up for the Iraqi war was the way Americans had geared up for Vietnam. The Military was unsure of what could be expected and on some level there was a fear among them. If the Military had a level of fear, imagine what the Military families who loved them felt. I was scared, and I know the boys were too, no matter what they said.
Flashing forward to the day of my husbands deployment, I remember standing on base waiting for the buses to arrive with my husband and our family. I remember praying to God and wishing on a star that the buses would get lost on their way to get our boys. I never felt my heart sink the way it sank when I saw the first of many Greyhound buses coming through the gate. I glanced at my handsome husband and tried to etch his face into my memory, just in case it would be my last time to see him. He was proud, ready, and full of fight that day. He was in his Cammie's with his beloved M16 strapped to his back. That weapon would be taking my place by his side for the next "how-ever-many-days-it-takes" and I almost couldn't stand it. I never in my life been as proud of anyone as I was of him right then.
I hugged and kissed every man in that company good-bye as they got on the bus. I was jaded by the fact that they were all dancing at our wedding 2 weeks before. They were dancing, drinking, and generally trying to forget the fact that some of them just graduated High School the previous June. They were years older then their age that day, whether they knew it or not.
I remember once they all had boarded the buses and began to slowly wind their way back out of the gate, I felt like collapsing with fear. After he left on that bus and the tail lights faded into the distance, there are a loy of details that I remember and some that I don't. I do remember with explicit detail a young girl my age holding a toddler. They were both crying as she held him. I even remember what the child was wearing...a blue and white striped overall and red coat and hat with a white pom pom on his hat. His little arms wrapped around his mother's neck while burrying his little face in the crook of his arm to stop the tears. I remember him looking over his mother's shoulder with one eye at the direction of the buses, probably praying that they would turn around. My heart broke when he told his mother that he promised to be good if only daddy would come home now. I cried for him, I cried for her, I cried because I had nothing but my anguish.
I never found out who that girl was with the baby, but I will never in my life forget her, her son, or the image 2 hours prior of a tall handsome Marine father holding that very boy telling him that he meant the world, with his son in his arms, and his new baby, his M16 on his back.
If my mind was a camera, it took a snapshot that day. A photo to place in my soul as a moment that helped to define me as a person. I was alone after that day, even when I was among people. And I was alone for seven months after that day. We had no contact for 4 months. No letters, definitely no calls or emails. I watched CNN insistently as if filling my head with images would help me understand what he was seeing. I was living outside of and Air Force Base at the time, 30 miles from my family. I thank God that I wasn't further away. That Air base was my only Saviour. Somehow I thought that by being close to any Military base, I would be in a better position to know about him.
Being by that base, I engaged in the usual social events with other military wives of all branches of the service. That is until I saw that some of the wives had extra martial activities that I wanted no parts of. I would rather die then have my husband hear that I associate with them and have him wonder, under fire no less, if I am faithful. So once again, I was back to square one, alone.
I remember everyday coming home from work and praying starting from one block away, that once I pulled into my driveway there wouldn't be a town car with a Chaplin and a recruiter standing there waiting for me. Waiting to tell me that my life was over because his was. The moments that I was able to forget the hell that I was living there were trips to the shore, shopping, some dabbling in hobbies, but all in all uneventful. Come home from work, fall asleep in front of CNN until 3 am, go to bed, wake up do it again. Looking back I wish I was in a better mental position to do things, volunteer, take some fun classes. If I had to do it again, I would be prepared. I would be ready. But back then I was facing an unknown.
Many, many people have asked me what it is like to be 23, newly married, and send your husband into a war zone. These words are my account, mine and mine alone. Every spouse has a different story, different feelings, different memories, especially different fears. I can look back and be proud that I made it though, that my husband made it through as well as all of the men that my husband promise he would bring home. All of them came home with not even a scratch. I learned about my strengths, I learned to trust my gut, I proved to be self sufficient, and I taught myself about passion. During that time he learned the same things about me, him and us. This is why my marriage is so strong, even on the other side of the world we were learning about each other.
I can say with absolute certainty that I will always live with the feelings that I had during that time, eventhough they say the brain cannot remember the exact feeling of pain. The heart can. I never want to forget those feelings though, they are too important in learning the true meaning of love, well for me anyway.
TO ALL THE MILITARY WIVES OF ANY BRANCH, ACTIVE OR RETIRED, BE PROUD OF YOURSELF. FOR WE ARE VETERANS OF OUR OWN WAR.
Love and Peace this holiday season to our brothers and sisters in arms. We love you.
12/19/2005 8:39 pm
Very touching, Kiera. Please relay to your husband that so many of us are eternally prideful and grateful for what they do for us, and that we are thinking of them, especially this time of year. Especially for the ones who can not be with their families. |
The military news that flows from your state is typically not good. We've all watched the scenes from that air force base at the southern end where those that were killed in action return home. Its great to hear a happy story, one where the soldiers return home safe and unharmed into loving arms.
God bless you and your hubby. Take care of each other!
Ah, Its you again, Your Angel Feathers and your Blood Stains...