Raj was poking me or trying to tickle me or something. I told him, "Krystal said I should love on my sweet husband before we have to say goodbye again. Have you seen my sweet husband anywhere?"
To which he responded that this goodbye hardly even counted since "we'll only be apart for five days. Not like it's a long time."
"Uh, I think that is a long time for normal married people to be apart."
We're just coming off a month apart while Raj took an unexpected trip to Nepal. We've been apart for longer, but this one felt tough because we didn't know he was going until the day before and, for most of the month, had no idea at all of when he might come home. While they are always tentative, we typically have estimated return dates by the time he leaves. This time, he was told to pack for a week, but we knew it could be much longer. About a week in, we had an estimated return date of two weeks later. Then a second major earthquake happened and a Marine helicopter went missing.
Naturally, we already had plane tickets and hotel reservations to spend Memorial Day weekend on Kyushu, the southern-most island of mainland Japan. Because this is not our first rodeo, we also had flight insurance and hotel reservations without cancellation fees. Just after getting back from Kyushu, we were supposed to leave for three weeks in the States. Fortunately, the day we were going to get my tickets was the day we found out he was leaving. So we waited.
Yeah, Memorial Day came and went, as did our intended departure date for the US. I was explaining to a friend (who is a PLANNER and also not a military spouse) about how we were still waiting on getting the trip figured out. Her response: "I would claw my face off."
But what can you do? Raj did eventually get home and we switched dates around for our trip, buying my tickets once his amended leave got approved, five days before we left. Raj has two weeks of classes in Baltimore. The original plan was to visit his family in Albuquerque first, fly to San Antonio to visit my family for a week, then I'd stay here while he went to his classes. Now we're just doing the trip in reverse, visits after classes. Everything worked out and my face is intact.
To be clear, we do prefer to be together. I don't want to give anyone the idea that it isn't hard to be apart or to have everything quite so up in the air. It's just the reality of our lifestyle. Getting all worked up about it would be pretty futile.
Barring additional natural disasters, Raj should be home for most of the year we have left in Okinawa. He'll go on some exercises, always with slippery return dates that will frustrate me when they change several times. We'll keep buying trip insurance when we do book tickets. I'll keep working and dragon boating and generally making sure I have a life that doesn't entirely grind to a halt in the absence of my husband.
When we're together, we'll say I'm glad you're home. and It's good to be home. and maybe hold hands in the car while we're sitting in traffic. We'll also say What do you want for dinner? and I don't care, what do you want for dinner? and argue about who needs to get out of bed to turn on the ceiling fan when we forget. We'll adore and irritate and cuddle and maybe only kind of half-listen to each other. Like normal married people.
Until the next time we say Have a safe flight. and I'll miss you. and I'll miss you too. Come home soon.