It has been a while, hasn't it! So much has transpired, yet I've written so little! I must get better at keeping up! I must get better at keeping up!
The first few weeks of January have been eventful but quiet considering I am the only one in the office right now. There has been work to do, which keeps me busy, but the office has been quite pleasant and peaceful; something I have enjoyed tremendously.
I've been working with a volunteer organization here on Bagram--as most of you know--and that has been quite fulfilling. It has also kept me busy. I've had several opportunities to "meet and greet" (if you will) many local nationals. We've been able to provide donated items to them, for which they are grateful. On the header of this post, I've included a picture of an Afghan man that was at our last event.
I am heading home quite soon for a bit of leave. I can't wait to see my family. My daughter is growing so fast and changing every day. She is such a marvel, such a wonder. From every picture to the next, I can always see slight changes and differences in her face, hair, teeth, smile, height, weight, etc. Her agility, dexterity, balance, and coordination improves drastically with every video I watch. One wouldn't normally think that 1-2 weeks make a difference, but it does--really. When they are this little, the difference is palpable. My husband has been outstanding, keeping me updated with frequent pictures and videos; thus, I am very thankful. I can't imagine what this would be like if I couldn't see pictures of her. Can you image how difficult it must have been prior to the age of technology? Although I truly feel as though I am missing so much, many have missed so much more than I ever will and so I am happy for what I do have. I guess that is how I look at the situation. So many Soldiers here are parents and it's very hard for everyone. I think I've touched on this before, but I constantly hear from well-intentioned friends that "I couldn't do that - I couldn't leave my kids!" I always chuckle at that comment because in most situations, it's rarely a choice. Soldiers don't love their kids any less and our jobs certainly don't mean more to us than our kids do. Now, some Soldiers don't want to place themselves in the position of having kids and then deploying; consequently, they honorably leave the military. Others put off having kids as long as possible until their clock starts ticking... Others need the financial support and stay in, while still others consider their service a gratifying and necessary sacrifice. While there is usually a myriad of overlapping reasons, one thing remains constant: We miss and love our kids just as you would. To answer the "How do you do it?" question I've been asked so many times, I think the key to getting through a deployment is coping strategies. Plain and simple: it stinks, it is cruddy, and it is difficult missing your children/family. A person has to realize it is going to stink every time he or she thinks about it and so one must discover and build the tools necessary to cope. It is a fact, it is hard, and it doesn’t get easier. A means of processing the sadness and coping must be found and nurtured. If a person can do that, they can get through anything. It is so simple, yet so hard, but not impossible for anyone.
Right now my focus is on going home. I keep trying to envisage how my daughter will react. She thinks I live in a box (the TV). Or worse, maybe she thinks I AM a box. I anxiously anticipate her reaction! I wonder what will cross her mind when she sees my head outside of a frame with attached arms and legs. My husband tells me she knows me--she kisses my picture every morning--but I still wonder. She does smile and try to kiss the computer when I am on the webcam, and she does indeed intently watch the TV when my husband plays the story book DVD I recorded before I left, but yet I wonder. I will be a familiar stranger to her, I suppose. But, from what I’m told, she doesn't know a stranger. So, there is hope for me!
Lately, I've been throwing myself into running; faster, harder, and longer. It's been great for my baby weight loss, if I can still call it that this many.......months later ("year" is just so negative). My marsupial is shrinking and I get in about 5 miles every day now. I'm toying with the thought of running a marathon when I get home. By the word "toying", I mean playing; by playing, I mean having fun with it; having fun with it means not really serious; and not really serious means I'm not obligated to anything! If that isn’t noncommittal, what is? Okay, in all seriousness, it is sort of a goal and for right now, just having my long term goal is satisfying enough. At this point, short term, I just hope I have the fortitude to work out when I am on leave. I can only imagine how painful my return to running will be if I stop for a couple weeks. Cross your fingers that I make it.
Good news alert, but with a caveat; that being, unfortunately, I cannot elaborate on any details. I heard today wonderful news for Nazia. Once I can, I will fill you all in completely. I am very excited for her.
Until then, and until next time, take care my friends! I’ll be in touch soon.