The Day You Left

My husband was recently deployed with Operation Iraqi Freedom and left from Ft. Dix, NJ. I was fortunate enough to see him off. I felt compelled to write this.
Christina Ellis, NY

The Day You Left

The day you left was agony to my heart. As we drove into the lot in front of the barracks, dread suddenly filled my lungs and I couldn't breathe. You raced from the car to formation and I knew then that 'goodbye" was imminent. The air was thick with worry and mist- from the rain that was just beginning to taper. The four long white busses were idling just waiting to rush you away to war. The pungent bitter smell of diesel fuel escalated as formation continued on. The only light we saw dripped down from the street lamps and from the headlights on the busses. There was an intense feeling of urgency and gloom among the damp dark evening.

All of the men were lined up in neat and tidy groups standing proud so their families wouldn't worry. Scattered around all of you were your belongings packed in clear plastic bags. I looked down at your gear and saw that the mist had developed into fat droplets of water that slowly dripped off the edge. My heart felt as though it was being squeezed by the strongest of giants and my lungs were filled with concrete. The platoon sergeants yelled to motivate all of you so you would quickly load up the bus. "Come on, Come on, Load Up, Let's go, Let's go, Let's go!" was shouted in repetition and excitement, however, the men didn't seem to move any quicker.

It was nice that Sgt C" initiated an anniversary song for us, and touching when your fellow comrades glanced over with a smile for me. Our hug was unlike any other we've ever had. It was like you were fighting the enemy already and you were fighting to hold on to me. Your embrace with our son, killed me to watch, and even broke my spirit. Our son did not understand what his daddy was doing and where his daddy was going. He just contently said "daddy look it, school bus". All the families around were embracing and crying, some sobbing, some laughing, and yet to me, none were suffering as much as me. When you walked away you took part of me with you, the part that will always be thinking of you and loving you every step of your way.

By now the exhaust fumes from the busses was lingering in the air and the light from the lamps was now filtering through the smoke and steam and everything was still. The darkness made it difficult to see everyone load up and the cool air and mist was finally making me cold. It was cold in my heart and cold on my skin. Suddenly standing there with the busses loaded, families all around, my son, my daughter, my mother-in-law, my father-in law, I felt completely and utterly alone, as if I was the only one left standing. The feeling passed with the words from Corey, "Daddy on bus". We rushed over to the window for one last look into your eyes: One last touch of your hand, and for Corey, one last kiss from his hero.

As the busses drove away I stood and wondered what will this year be like, will I be strong? I was jealous, I was angry, I was sad, I was excited; I was scared, I was in love; in love with a man so brave and courageous. That night I did the hardest thing I have ever had to do.send the love of my life, my best friend, off to fight in an uncertain war. After we left the barracks I went back to our motel room. I stared at your cell phone and realized there was no way to call you. I stared at my phone and realized you wouldn't be calling me. I lay down and closed my eyes and tried to imagine what you were doing. Where did you sit on the plane? Did you sleep at all? Did you talk to the guys about missing your family? Were you hungry? I fell asleep not knowing where you were and what you were doing. I will have to get used to that uncertainty. You arrived in Kuwait on 09April04 8:00 PM (EST).

Christina Ellis