The One Left Behind
It’s not easy being the one left behind, to worry and hope time will pass quickly and bring him back home. I don’t think I can explain this to the people around me. Life is both stalled and relentlessly moving on and pulling me along with it. This day will never end. I'm still working, still doing the things I always do on a Friday, regardless. How is this happening? How do my feet know the way when my mind is lost? Muscle memory runs deep. There are emails to organize, projects to work on. I am participating in my life with the people around me whose worlds have not been rocked by this storm. Soon I'll have to go downstairs and drop off this file, and Kat will probably ask me what I'm doing this weekend, and how am I supposed to answer her? Oh, you know, just sitting around hoping my husband doesn't die. That's enough, of course he won't die. He'll be fine. He knows what he's doing. Why would I think that? I shouldn't think such terrible things. Actually, something terrible is probably going to happen now, because I thought that thought.
This feeling is nothing like it was supposed to be. You watch enough TV and war movies and you think you understand the heartache of a young wife running the house while her husband is overseas. I had a very romantic vision of the happy homecoming from an Important Mission in a Faraway Land that would only be marginally risky and wouldn't actually affect either of us very much, aside from missing one another's company (of course we would miss each other dearly). What would that really be like? I know I have no idea, can have no idea of what that truly feels like until we've experienced it for ourselves. There is not really any way to prepare. How awful am I for hoping I never have to find out? Probably pretty awful, I won't ever say that out loud.
It never occurred to me that he could be placed in harm's way here at home, in American cities, called up for rescue missions during blizzards and hurricanes. How did I miss that? When citizens are ordered out of town, the man I love with every inch of my soul is marching into that danger, to be there for those citizens, even the ones who could have left but refused to. Why couldn't everyone just leave? They could have just returned when the storm was over, the water has receded, and then he and his team could be sent out there to help rebuild. Once the danger is gone.
I can't focus on the little things, on pointless daily life when every second that passes might be bringing horrible tragedy crashing into my little world while I am living my small life, oblivious. But I shouldn't think that way.
This is no different that what we planned for the weekend. I knew I'd be alone, I knew I'd be missing him. This weekend was a regularly scheduled training weekend. Instead, the entire eastern half of the state is underwater, with three more days of rain to come, and my man is sent out to a tiny mountain country. He and his fellow guardsmen and women are filling sandbags in a desperate attempt to keep a wild river from overflowing its levies, moving vital technical equipment to higher ground, and preparing for rescue missions. Please, keep everyone safe. Don't let anyone be in need of rescuing. I need to stop worrying, it's not helping anything. I was going to be apart from him anyway. I should just ignore the circumstances long enough for them to pass.
Oh! He just texted. He's in the town, beginning to check door-to-door to see where residents remain. I shouldn't expect quick responses. I know that I will expect quick responses.
He was a Navy search-and-rescue crewman for years, I should not be surprised that he volunteered first. What did I think would happen? The pull to help is deeply ingrained. I knew what I was getting into. But somehow, I didn't.