Part three in the story of our first war time deployment. Catch up on parts 1 and 2 below.
In the coming days and weeks I heard from Chris very little. I continued to write him daily and I collected newspapers for him. I didn't read them.
I went on a media strike. Each morning and each night I turned on FoxNews and watched the bottom ticker for about 5-10 minutes and that was it. I didn't even listen to the news cast that was on. I just wanted to get a general update. I hated the body count, I still do. There is no need for it. I hated the randomness of it all. I just wanted to know one thing. Was Saddam dead or in custody yet. Once that happened I knew we'd be on the downhill slide and that's all I really cared about. I didn't know all that would be involved in the coming months and years.
The details are fuzzy. My days, nights, and weeks all ran together. I remember the base was like a ghost town. It was sad and creepy all at once. The organization I worked for developed new programs to support the families whose husband, wife, father, or mother were off in Iraq. On a daily basis I got teary eyed as the community wrapped it's arms around our base as a whole and hugged us with support. I went to yoga, I went to the gym, I went tanning, I spent way too much time in WalMart because it wasn't home, it wasn't my empty apartment. My best friends husband was gone at the time too so we spent many nights together just wasting time. Somebody would ask me if I wanted to do something and I never turned them down because it took up time. I rushed out of my apartment on more than one occasion in my pajamas because somebody (usually my best friend) called about a sale on makeup at the drugstore or because she and the kids were getting ice cream. On the exceptionally lonely nights I would do anything. Want to get a tooth pulled?* Sure! That'll take up a good hour and a half, and maybe the meds will knock me out for a little longer.
It was sometime during this deployment that I realized I wasn't sleeping. I didn't understand it, I just knew that I was so tired I was being careless and downright stupid. I could fall asleep, just couldn't stay asleep. I woke up at least once every hour and jumped if the phone even hinted at ringing. I went to the doctor who asked me what was wrong. I told him I couldn't sleep and he asked why and I said I didn't know why. He asked about stress, and I told him work was good, nothing unusual. He asked about my husband and I said that he was in Iraq but it was OK, I was doing fine with that, no stress there...he laughed at me. Said that maybe I was really worried about my husband but had pushed it into my subconscience. He gave me a prescription of ambien. It helped and it didn't put me in such a deep sleep that I couldn't wake up.
The phone calls from Chris were difficult. I forwarded my house phone to my cell phone. I took the route with the most cell phone service every time. Even if it meant driving 30 minutes out of my way and sitting in traffic. I didn't want to miss a call. When he was able to call there was a horrible delay, bad connections and sometimes the line would go dead but not disconnect. I remember sitting one night and talking for 20 minutes into nothingness just in case he could hear me. He could and all of the sudden I could hear him again. Conversations like that drained me. I wouldn't hang up until the line went dead and gave me a busy signal. I didn't want to hang up the phone, I refused to say goodbye, to let him say good bye. We ended every conversation with "I love you. Muah".
*There was no actual teeth pulling, but I probably would have jumped at that too.