Tuesday, September 18, 2007
John started his journey to reenlistment almost a month ago. We have been down this route before. I will never forget the sound my heart makes as it drops from my chest after that one night. I was at home with a very small baby. John was working second shift, and thus was not home. The television was constantly tuned to CNN at that point, as the War in Iraq had just started. The telephone rings, just as I am about to get little Evan to sleep, which was no small feat at the time. The Conversation went like this:
Caller: Hello, Ma'am, may I speak with Cpl. J.R. Ferguson?
Me: I'm sorry, he is not home at the moment. May I take a message? (I was sensing something strange about the call.)
Caller: No Ma'am. Can you tell me when he will be home?
Me: Around midnight....May I ask who this is?
Caller: This is Captain BlahBlahBlah from the Dept. of Defense. I am sorry I cannot discuss this information with anyone other than J.R. Ferguson
I hung up the phone and thought for a brief second that seemed to last for hours! Were they calling John up to serve? I knew that his Inactive Reserve obligation should have been up. We were NOT in a draft. What in the Hell was this all about? I started the freak out process, of which only I am fully capable. Like all Americans, I had been keeping up with what was going on in the world. I watched those towers fall on television, in horror. This horror was compounded by the fact that it occured exactly one week from the time we had brought our newborn son home from the hospital. His birth will always be associated with that day in American History. In the box of mementos that I have kept for him is the newspaper from the day, with the headline reading "TERROR". What a time to come into the world!
So fast forward a little bit, and you have me with my young son, panicking over why someone from the DoD is calling my husband at 2100 at night. My head started swimming with thoughts. The first one was "What am I gonna do without John by myself with a small baby?" I called John's dad and told him the details on the call. He had no idea what to do. When John got home from work later that night, and I reported the call, he just shrugged. SHRUGGED! As in "No big deal!"
After many, many telephone conversations, it turned out to be someone looking for John to reenlist. But we also found out that he was listed as IRR for over a year longer than he should have been. So he goes to reenlist. "Hey, why not?" he says. They were offering him quite the deal, it would seem. No boot camp, no loss of rank, a hefty bonus. He was not scared at all. If he was, he has the best control of anyone I have ever met, because it never showed. The old USMC uniforms were taken out of the closet and inventoried. He started a diet and PT regimen to get back in shape. Then, as quick as it came into my life, it disappeared. He had gained too much weight since his discharge. It was not meant to be.
So here we are, several years later. A part of me wants to say that this will be the same....that he will change his mind at the last minute, and I will keep my husband here with me. But inside, I know that this is different from that day years ago. He has gotten back into shape. He is speaking of our future in phrases that include the U.S. Navy. He is preparing me for life on a military base, and speculating on which base he would like to be stationed. He has informed both of his parents, and has had a "talk" with Evan about Daddy not being here one day soon. The talk, suddenly one day, changed from "IF I go into the Navy..." to "WHEN I go into the Navy..."
The part of me that wanted to remain in denial, believing he would back out, has been thrust into the reality that this is really going down. The women for whom I cry on television because they are living without their husbands......that will be me. It is so surreal. I never intended on being a martyr. I just want my little American family, enough money to pay the bills, and a home that is adequate. I never pictured I would be the wife of a man in combat. I thought the only combat that would impact my life was the rough play between father and son as I look on from the kitchen window, dinner cooking in the oven.
I truly think reality is starting to catch up with me. Funny thing is, I would have been happy to remain in ignorant bliss. I do not like the reality that is dawning.
I have never held a gun in my hands, felt the weight of the cold metal and warm wood. John has, many times over. I do not know if I could hit the broad side of a barn with a bullett from very close range. John has been awarded the "Rifle Expert" badge 3 times over. I don't know if the recoil of a rifle would have enough kick to knock me to the ground. John can take recoil on his shoulder like a rock, so that you cannot tell there even was recoil. I have to have faith that the United States Marine Corps trained him well enough that it is still with him today . That he has not forgotten. That he will be okay. I have to come to terms with the fact that this is who I married, my son's father. He is, and always will be a US Marine. While the activity of daily life has masked it, it has always been in him. Just like that night years ago, this has always been a silent part of our marriage. I spoke of his military career, but I never realized it will still there, just lurking under the surface. I think it was when John watched the country that he loves come under attack, when he heard the first account of a Marine's death Over There that brought it all rushing to the surface. Now I see that this has always been a part of the man I love so very much. I now fully understand the "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" mentality. Where does this leave me? I think the translation of "Semper Fidelis" applies to this situation as well. As this man's wife.....Always Faithful.