7 months, 217 Days, .59 years… It sounds so small, so precise, so easily attainable. So much has happened though, that 7 months might as well be a millennium, he and I living in a sci-fi, parallel universe situation instead of just separated by the continent and ocean that we are. It is 1/8th of our daughter’s young life, and oh my, how she’s grown. It is 1/60th of mine, and still, I’ve changed in seemingly invisible ways, but he’ll notice. And him – he has been stripped of all he knows, been given a rifle and pup tent and been told to get on a bus to leave without communication for 7 months, 217 days, .59 years. We thought it would be fine, if not easy.
But so many challenges were waiting for us, so many small things we never counted on…deployment by the numbers brings a whole new perspective.
It is Valentine’s Day, and I am alone but not lonely; I know our kind of love comes around only once. 4th of July, fireworks seen from home, while he watches bombs light up the sky instead. It will be his 29th birthday, another one spent alone. It was my 33rd birthday, a celebration I only ½ felt, as I wished on my candles for his safe return. Hopefully, it won’t be after her birthday; turning 6 without her Daddy is a present I don’t want to have to give. It is Labor Day, Memorial Day, and a whole slew of reasons to barbeque on the back porch, except that I don’t grill—that’s his job.
It is 217 bedtime routines, 5,942 books read, 534 times brushing her teeth, and the 37 tuck-ins a night after water and potty and all other excuses have been exhausted. It is getting a book from my parents called, “Go The F to Sleep,” and wishing he was there to find it as funny as I do, as I laugh alone until 2 a.m. It is 217 mornings waking up to find her at the foot of my bed, begging to get in for just a minute. It is 217 times of me acquiescing. It is .59 years of her growing up and becoming a princess and telling me I am a beautiful princess too. I wish her Daddy, my prince, could hear how sweet she has become. It is 8 swimming lessons, 240 minutes of her not wanting to put her face under the water. It is 1 proud moment for me when she finally does.
For me, it is 116 runs with the Thundering tHERd, 58 visits to the gym, and one half marathon with my best girl friends. There are 5 names of fallen Marines we wish we didn’t have on the back of our jerseys. It is 140 trails in Joshua Tree National Park we’ll never get all the way through. It is about 20 bottles of wine, 7 girls’ nights out, and 457 sappy romantic comedies. It is too many hours on Facebook to count, not enough time spent studying, and only 3 Skype dates with him. It is 7 ‘happy girl times’, emotions running faster than I can keep up; 7 times I am reminded that only a month has passed. It is 3 letters, with promises of more on the way, many which won’t get here until after he does. It is 7 bouquets of flowers he purchased in advance this time, so as not to miss any holidays. It is usually 25 days until the next call, which means 24 more sleepless nights. It is 217 times that I will check icasualties.com, though I know I will get a knock on the door before I see his name in black with the others. It is 7 rent checks paid, 7 cell phone bills taken care of, and only 3 calls about the motorcycle he put up for sale the day before leaving. It is 7 volunteer meetings, 6 family events, and countless replies to new friends met whom he will never see.
Still though, it is 217 days that the sun shines here, making every minute worth getting up for. It is her counting to 119 that leaves me in awe of her intelligence. It is time to read the 23 new books on my Kindle, which he never loved me doing before. It is taking 6 classes I finally have the time to do, and it is quickly becoming only .3 years left to do them. It is time to blog, find my art again, and teach our daughter to love to draw. It is the 26 pieces of construction paper adorning our house that show how much she takes after me. It is knowing that 3 minus 1 still equals a family, even when that one is so far away. After all, it’s only for another 106 days, .3 years, 3 months. We can do that; after all, it’s just math, right?
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