Thursday, September 04, 2008

It Finally Sunk In

4th Grade Open House Night was full of the usual suspects - kids grinning gigantic, sticky, candy-faced grins as they caught up with friends they hadn't seen all summer, parents - arms laden with bag upon bag upon bag full of the school supplies too heavy to send in their child's backpack, and teachers - expectantly awaiting the fresh, new (although sticky) faces of their newly minted 4th graders, ready for another year of learning new things.

When we went into the room and found the groups of desks arranged in fours, each with a name tag neatly affixed to it's surface, Wyatt was so pleased to find that he was sitting with two kids from last year's class, along with a new one. He eyeballed the neatly stacked materials that his teacher had so thoughtfully placed on each student's desk. He inspected the bare and beckoning inside, which was just waiting for him and all his stuff to move in.

He tried out the blue plastic chair, just to make sure it "fit" right. And then declared the entire event and his new 4th grade classroom a success, pulling me over to the line of children and parents waiting to meet the new teacher.

Her hair was up, piled in an up-do atop her neatly dressed frame, so I didn't recognize her right off the bat. But there she was, the mother of two boys, exactly the same age as mine.

Our friendship was an easy one, sharing moments volunteering in kindergarten classrooms together and helping one another out in a pinch. I always knew that if one of my boys wanted one of her boys to come over, the other would come too - it was just easier that way and the brothers relished in their equally matched friendships.

We hadn't seen them all summer. Sleepovers were requested when the other was away on vacation and vice versa. We kept pretty busy and even though I know there were days when I would have sold my soul to get a little peace and quiet, I never called upon her to have her boys over - but knowing that I could, was comforting.

We exchanged the usual "how was your summer" greetings, but before I could finish my rambling diatribe about how "these kids really need to get back on a school schedule," she said, "He's been deployed."

He's been deployed.

Suddenly all my complaints seemed tiny. All my irritations, minimized as I stood there and absorbed what she had just told me.

I knew no words for this. A hug was all I could do and it was then that she teared up.

"I was fine," she said.

"It's okay," I said.

Her husband will be gone for a year. A year. He is a member of the National Guard and the last time he was deployed, the boys were little - too little to understand. Too little to miss him. Too little to be afraid of his absence. Too little to watch the news.

Suddenly, this war - The War - is taking on a whole new meaning for me. Even though I never placed it high on my list of priorities when looking at the politicians and their issues, it is right there - up on the top now.

And those boys . . . I just want their father to be safe, and I'll do whatever I can to support them throughout the year - whether it be taking the kids in the mornings when my friend has to commute to her student teaching job, or taking them to the movies on the weekend. They have to feel supported - they have to feel like they are being held - they have to know that whatever side of the issue people stand on, someone will be there for them.

And I will be hoping that he comes home safe.


flutter said...

me too babe, me too.

Mel said...

I will be, too, Carrie.

The Mrs. said...

Being a support to your friend is the best thing in the world you can do for her. Have them over for dinner, take the kids for her on the weekend, call to chat during the weekend lulls. Having your spouse deployed, especially to war, makes your world spin. After a while she'll find her groove, we all do, but the stress of being the solo parent, the stress of constant worry, the stress of it all gets to you and seldom does it feel like its letting up.

Good luck to your friends husband and to her and her boys.

Susan said...

You are a great friend and she is certainly going to need one in the coming months.

Christy said...

I agree with you 100%. I will keep them in my thoughts and's just awful. She's lucky to have a friend like you to help her in whatever way you can. :)

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Count me in on the prayers and good hopes thing.

A dear friend of mine has had her husband deployed twice....and it just amazes the sacrifices the few make for the good of the many!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Sometimes it does take things really hitting home to make us look at the big picture.

I hope everything turns out well for your friend and her family.

Jen said...

My friend's husband (also in the Guard) was deployed last year. It was supposed to be for a year, but his unit got to come home early. You never know...maybe your friend will get some good news too. It is pretty easy to forget that we are in a war with the way the media hardly ever covers it. It really brings it home when someone you know has to go over.

jen said...

this war..this ruthless war.

Grim Reality Girl said...

My prayers are joining the others. "He's been deployed" stopped my heart. Praying for peace and safety for our troops.... I'm so grateful for the sacrifices they make for us. I can't imagine my hubby leaving for a year. I will stop grumbling about his work schedule and go back to being grateful that he has a job and come home every day. Thanks for making me count my blessings... Prayers will continue.

Andria and Co. said...

Thoughts and prayers are with your friend...
Maybe the kids can make provision packages for the troops? My uncle (who is just a few years older than I) is over there, and he constantly asks for: baby powder (to sprinkle in their boots), jerky, electrolyte powder, and spaghetti. Apparently, they bought spaghetti over in Iraq, and once it hit the boiling water it turned to mush. Can you imagine??!! I am in awe of our soldiers, and all that they do.

Carol said...

Wow, a whole year. I cannot even imagine.

Makes it seem so much more real.

Kiddo's going without parents for long stretches to keep us all safe.

Bless their hearts.

Domestic Extraordinaire said...

make sure you call oftrn to offer help. when hubby was deployed calling friends, especially ones that i knew weren't in my shoes were the hardest. you are truly an awesome friend. hugs!!

Julienne said...

Wow, know the feeling. It feels very real when someone you know is there...whether it's war, the WTC, or the Coast that the hurricane is heading just makes it so much more personal!

I remember (I think) that you read Shannon's blog, Rocks in My Dryer. She's doing a great series, Things I'd like for you to know. One of them is by the wife of a deployed soldier. Maybe it'll give you some idea of what you can do to help (thought your ideas are already fabulous):

My hearts and prayers to your friend and her family.

Caffeine Court said...

How difficult for your friend and her family! I hope his tour of duty ends sooner than expected, but even one day there would be horrible.

All Adither said...

Oh, man. That must be so hard. For the whole family.

Kimmylyn said...

My thoughts and prayers to her and her family.. that has to be so hard..