I didn’t know it, but my body has been clenched for nine months. It unclenched with a whoosh when I received this text from our daughter who has been stationed in Afghanistan for the past nine months:
“I’m in New Hampshire!!!!”
My toes, hair follicles, teeth, gut, and every other body part you can think of relaxed as soon as I read those four words. (Can hair follicles clench? I think so. Mine did.)
Our daughter’s Army unit is finally stateside and they are all in one piece. Weary, but whole.Thank the lord.
During her deployment, many people asked me/said:
“How are you doing?”
“It must be terribly hard for you.”
“I can’t imagine how worried you must be.”
“Do you think about it night and day?”
My pat answer was, “I don’t think about it.”
That isn’t entirely true because I thought about her deployment nonstop. However, I didn’t allow those thoughts to enter my pea-brain. Otherwise, I would have been more of a raving lunatic of worry than I already am.
That would have done no one any good. And I don’t look good in a straight-jacket.
Plus, all my worries wouldn’t have changed the fact that our daughter was called to do what she has always wanted to do . . . serve her county.
And she did so brilliantly. She was the only female in her unit and immediately assumed a leadership role among her peers. She received a commendation by the Major General at Bagram Air Force Base for selfless service during the Women’s History Month celebration in March. Think speeches, framed certificate, write-up in the newspaper, and after-party complete with a sheet cake heavily frosted in red, white, and blue.
The nature of her work in Afghanistan is top-secret (I think James Bond was in her unit) so we don’t know what she exactly did to deserve the selfless service award, but I’m sure it wasn’t making coffee for the General.
As she put it, her unit was doing badass intelligence work to get the bad guys. And they got ‘em. Or, at least some of them. Unfortunately, more brave soldiers remain in Afghanistan to deal with the others who want to cause harm.
Our daughter is back at her dutybase for a few weeks and then gets a two-week leave to come home. I’ve lined up menus of every comfort food I can think of, already have beer chilling on ice, clean sheets on her bed await, a beach towel is laid out on the chaise by our pool, and a welcome home party with our friends and family is on the books.
She may be in bed or on the pool chaise for the entire party and if she is, I can’t say I would blame her.
It is funny, in a not-so-funny way, how the mind can compartmentalize worry, fear, dread . . . whatever. I allowed that fear to pop its ugly head out for brief moments and then would busy myself with putting together a care package to send to her instead of wallowing in my angst.
As William F. Buckley, Jr. said, “Industry is the enemy of melancholy.”
Amen to that, Bill.
I made myself industrious for nine months. Maybe now I can relax. Or at least relax until her next deployment.
P.S. Our daughter entered the Army in July of 2012. For those of you have been around this blog since 2012, you might remember that I did a series of blog posts that recapped her letters home from bootcamp. If I do say so myself, the posts are entertaining. I can say that because the words in those posts are hers. She did a great job of capturing her experience. I’ll say this . . . her idea of fun is way different than mine. If interested, click on July 2012 on the top-ish left side of this humble blog.
Pete Denton said:
Happy that unclenching has taken place. 🙂
And even better . . . she was just home on leave and now is spending her second week of leave visiting her sister in Idaho. We had a wonderful time having her home and are most happy that she is still in one piece.
The Laughing Housewife said:
Wonderful news! I’m so happy for you and so glad she’s home safe.
You said it, sister!
Mrs. P said:
Wow…what a crazy year it has been. I knew there was a reason for your blog silence. I also knew that you would come back when you were ready to talk. Though I have to admit, I had thought it was because you were diligently working on that book of yours.
Glad you are breathing again…it does make it easier to live if one takes a breath now and then. Enjoy your time with your little (big) girl! ❤
Thanks, Mrs. P! I wish I could say I was working on my manuscript. How the heck have you been? I’m off to your blog to find out what is new with you.
The Hook said:
Thank you for your daughter’s service, Robin.
I’ll tell her for you.
I’m over the moon for you, and yes, industry is the answer to too much thinking. I love that photo of her. Like you, I’d be in a corner sobbing the whole time “chanting are we home yet?”
I am rather over the moon for myself (and my family) too!
Your joy is felt in every word of this post. I share that joy with you. For you. I think it metaphoric that you had to hold your breath and keep industrious for nine months. !
Cheers and immense thanks to your daughter for her service.
It is hard to hold your breath AND stay busy. It is a wonder I didn’t pass out. I guess it was because I was too busy praying.
Lynne Ayers said:
“Industry is the enemy of melancholy.” This I know. So happy for you that she is home safe.
I wrote that quote down years ago during the time I was watching my beloved uncle become more and more infirm. The philosophy helped me power through the melancholy. Again, I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. I hope your memories give you comfort.
Kate Johnston said:
I’m so happy that your daughter is back in the USA safe and sound, and I am SO HAPPY THAT YOU ARE BLOGGING AGAIN! Sorry, was I shouting? I CAN’T HELP IT!
Hey, she’s in NH you say? Still? Or is that where she landed? Whereabouts, do you know? I’m curious cuz Pease Airforce Base is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live.
YES, IT APPEARS I AM BLOGGING AGAIN, AND YES, I AM SHOUTING! Great to hear from you Kate. I am getting my feet wet again with blogging and I am a bit rusty. However, it has been wonderful to connect with old friends, like you, again.
No, New Hampshire was their first stop (very short) in the U.S. on their way back to Ft. Hood, Texas. I’ll ask her if it was at Pease AFB.
I am immediately going to your blog to see what you have been up to. But, in the mean time, how is your mom?
Kate Johnston said:
It’d be so cool if she stopped at Pease. We usually have “Greeters” there, so I hope that was her experience!
Thanks for remembering my mom. She passed away in September. I wrote quite a few posts, and a poem, about it, and then I didn’t blog for a long time. I just recently came back to social media about two weeks ago after a several months’ hiatus.
Looking forward to getting back on the blogging trail and finding a schedule that won’t stress me out or overwhelm me so much!
Amanda said there was a big celebration at the base with a bunch of veterans there to great them. I bet it was Pease. She said it was wonderful. I’ll ask her about the exact location.
I lost both of my parents last year (November and December) and the months leading up to their deaths (and many other things) took me away from writing. It wasn’t writer’s block, exactly, it was writers-I-don’t-care. But recently I would find myself thinking, “That would make a great blog post!” As I said on your blog, I am so glad to reconnect. I’ve missed you!
Kate Johnston said:
I’m so sorry about your parents, Robin. I know they were weighing heavily on your mind. I guess we can just console ourselves by knowing they are all in a better place right now. I’m sure my mom is wearing cowboy boots and gold jewelry and complaining about the upcoming election!
I’m happy to reconnect too. After Carrie had announced her departure, I started thinking about all my tried-and-true blogging buddies, and you were among them. It seems we dropped like flies over the past year!
Maybe we just need these long breaks, the longer we’re at it. That’s OK with me, I think I can handle social media better when I don’t have to manage it 24/7!
Your daughter is one brave badass serving our country. Im sure you are so happy and relieved–. This was so aptly expressed! Four years ago her letters and your words brought me here regularly. ( never can I thank you enough)Your strength and her grit make you formidable mother daughter dynamic duo!
Isn’t it great that my blog posts with Amanda’s letters brought us together and we have been friends and sisters-in-arms (ha! literally with daughters in the service) ever since. Our girls are badass. Appropriate that Amanda and I are a dynamic duo since my name is Robin!
You’re more Batgirl — woman. Bad to the bone kicking ass. Amanda is a chip off the ol block.
You are right. I would look better in a bat-skirt than green tights.
George Cunningham said:
Home, safe and sound. What a joy to have her back for awhile. We raise children to be all grown up and independent, but that doesn’t mean we don’t miss the little girls and boys that they once were.
Hi George! I love that she is independent, but did she HAVE to pick being a soldier?!?! How about something more along the lines of a nice safe desk job in the transportation industry?
If you ever want to see standing in my own puddle of tears, speak of our military or dogs. Put them together and take shelter, because you’ll be caught in a flood.
I can’t imagine the worry and pride all at once. I’m proud of your daughter and I don’t even know her. Thank her for me. Thank you, too, for being the military family at home praying, hoping and worrying (or trying not to).
Ack, that was supposed to say – If you ever want to see ME standing in my own puddle of tears.:-P
Oh, I hear you. Whenever I see a story about a military service dog and his/her handler, I get all choked up. I love that the military now lets the handler keep the dog when he/she retires from service.
I will thank her for you. Better yet, I’ll have her read this post so she can hear your words herself. Thank you, Lori.
Hahaha. She’s pretty tough and might think I’m a wuss. Which I am, of course. 😉
YEA! (Always whispering a little prayer for all those over there, too.)
Clean sheet on the bed and beach towel. Time to sleep. Perfect.
Please tell her how proud we are of her. And thank her for her will, strength, and commitment to serve.
Except for short leaves to come home, she has been sleeping on a military cot for 4 years. I know she can wait to sleep in a real bed with 800-count sheets. And given that it has been in the high 90s in Afghanistan, that pool is going to feel like a million bucks.
I will have her read this post so she can see your thanks personally!
Let's CUT the Crap! said:
❤ ❤ ❤ I'm happy for both of you. Yes, I remember those letters but may go over and read them again.
I knew another mother whose son was deployed. I understand. 🙂
I can’t believe I did those posts with her letters home 4 years ago already. Where did 4 years go? I’m glad her time in the service is almost up. However, she is considering re-upping. Sigh.
the eternal traveller said:
I’m so pleased for you. To know she is safely home must be such a relief. I hope she doesn’t have to go again.
She thinks she will be deployed again. I’m hoping not, but I saw something on the news this morning about sending more troops to Afghanistan. And she may re-up, and if she does, she will most likely be deployed again. I’m hoping that next time it is to a lovely Army station in Germany.
the eternal traveller said:
And then you could go and visit. That would be nice. I know how you feel. My husband served in East Timor and friends of ours have served in other areas of the world. It’s very worrying.
Where the heck is East Timor? What branch is/was he? There is an Army base in Garmish Germany and the setting is gorgeous. I would really like her to get stationed there.
the eternal traveller said:
He was in the Australian Army, Signals Corp. East Timor is north of Australia, west of Papua New Guinea. He was there as part of the United Nations Peace Keeping effort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Force_for_East_Timor
We’ve been to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and it is a beautiful part of Germany.
Well Army Helmet hats off to him!
the eternal traveller said:
Thanks. I will tell him. 🙂
Jilanne Hoffmann said:
Holy cow! I must have known this and compartmentalized it away. So happy she’s home safe and sound. And it sounds like she’s gonna have a fab two weeks of R&R with you guys. Please tell her thank you for all her service! We delicate flowers immensely appreciate the badasses who take care of us. Now I’m off to click on the 2012 post…..
I didn’t realize I was holding my breath for nine months. It is so great to have her back on U.S. soil. I will have her read this post so she can see your words of thanks personally. She will get a kick out of it.
Jilanne Hoffmann said:
I read through Amanda’s letters last night. Wow. Wow. My mom wanted me to go to West Point right after they started letting women in. I met with one recruiter who was not impressed with my 98 pound weakling athletic abilities. I was so relieved. My mother kept trying, but she didn’t realize that the foundation needed to be laid long before you go. Like the karate and ROTC your daughter was motivated to do herself. Me? Piano and violin lessons and reading….I could never run with a broken ankle. I do have a niece who is a badass. She’s run cross country in high school with a broken bone in her foot, finished an Ironman in 13 hours (while being mom to two kids under age 5), won the state novice division in judo in Colorado, and was one of the PAs who saved the little girl who drowned in the pool in FLA last week. Not bragging. Just stating the facts. Well, maybe I am bragging. 😀 I love her dearly and would trust her with my life.
Wow, your niece is one impressive gal. It sounds like she and our daughter would get along like a house on fire! I am more of a piano and reading kind of gal too. My idea of running is running to the library.
Marisa Schorer said:
This is a wonderful post Robin! It is amazing the sacrifice made by Amanda and the strength demonstrated by your family as you give her all your support. Praises that she is home safe and sound!
Thanks, Marisa! It is going to be so great to celebrate her safe arrival back on U.S. soil when she gets home. PARTY!!!!
Katie S said:
Amanda IS a badass….but also a sweet, beautiful young woman. We are beyond thrilled she is home safely and can’t wait to see her!
And she can’t wait to see you!
It is incredible the sacrifice our young men and women give to make our country safe. It is even more incredible – and gut wrenching – the sacrifice the parents of our young men and women make. I would much rather be there myself than to endure their potential danger.
I agree, but I am afraid I would do the Army no good. I’d be in a corner crying. I’m not sure that tactic would scare off the bad guys. I am so proud of our soldiers and pray for their safety everyday. I hope they ALL are home soon.