We said goodbye to Rob eleven days ago. I've been meaning to write about this experience for, well, eleven days now, but my free time is incredibly limited and I am exhausted by the end of the day. Once the kiddos are down, I just want to park it in front of the all-American pastime (DVR reality shows on TV) and knit for some all too brief moments before I put myself to bed.
The Sunday Rob left was probably the hardest experience I had ever watched. He would tear up simply looking at the kids. Thankfully they were oblivious to what was going on. Me, I was numb. I had never known what numb really felt like until then. I found comfort in very simple things, how my hand knit sweater wrapped around me like a wool/alpaca hug, and the physical warmth from the coffee mug in my hands.
Once we left the house, we were both instantly better before we had even exited the neighborhood. Like a band aid, we needed to rip it off and the build-up of Rob leaving the kids was worse than the actual event. I was thankful Rob drove and I could release tension from my fingers into my knitting. Some people are emotional eaters, I'm an emotional knitter. I love deftly maneuvering my fingers into beautiful patterns with expensive yarns. The rhythm is repetitive, trance like, and incredibly soothing. I knit when I'm happy, sad, mad, bored, or anxious. This day it was the anxiety of upcoming days, weeks, months of single parenthood that drove me to my treasured pastime.
Checking in to Atlanta Hartfield Airport was seamless and so very mundane. The everyday hustle and bustle of air travel continued all around us as I was treading inexperienced waters. Should I have been visibly upset? Resentful? Sad? Listless? Really I just felt numb. I watched as servicemen and women walked along on their way to destinations unknown. Some travelled to much more dangerous places, some for double the time of Rob's deployment, some even for a return trip to the Middle East they never expected. I also knew that some were on they're way home. To loved ones, spouses and children who missed them dearly, babies they had conceived but never met, and dogs who would would never forget them despite lengthy absences. An incredibly analytical person, I watched and took in the scenes around me with a new set of eyes. I felt excitement for the day Rob will return home and so incredibly thankful for the duration and location of his deployment. He will be in Kuwait (one of the safest of locations) for seven months, this is nothing compared to the year-long or eighteen month tours some many Army and Marine personnel are doing in places much more dangerous. An eternal optimist, while enduring this separation I am grateful for its brevity in comparison.
Looking back now, our goodbye hug was a little humorous. It was an embrace for dear life; I clung to Rob like he was a life-preserver. I wasn't sure I could survive the kids without him. He headed towards security and was instantly out of my sight. Everything around me seemed to expand and my field of vision just widened and drew back, just like in the movies. I had never felt so small in my whole life. Turns out there were no tears, no outbursts. Just me as a newly single mom leaving the crowd. Making my way out of the airport, to my car, and home to Grace & Fin.