Last night I went on a little trip down memory lane…I was really missing Austin. Nothing specific…I just missed his presence. So, I did something I haven’t done in months and months…I dug out the scrapbook I made of his deployment. I’m not all into scrapbooking, I don’t have the attention span for it…but I had a lot of fun making his.
The book isn’t done yet…it may never be, I don’t know. I still have a couple hundred photos to put in and there are still thousands saved on his laptop that I haven’t gotten a hold of. Putting that book together was good therapy for me. My friend and i used to work on them together late at night…and there was a huge time crunch toward the end of August, we each wanted to have a presentable (though unfinished) book to show the guys.
Austin loved his…I told him he couldn’t have it until I was done…that was also an excuse to keep it safe until I know that no one else will get a hold of it. We both know it is something he’s going to want years down the road. I know it sounds all sinister or at least cynical that I don’t trust Austin with his own book; but that truly is characteristic of the instability of his life as we know it.
Anyway, that book has some (most) of my favorite pictures of Austin, his guys, the area he lived in while deployed, his home on post, and some of us. I also put in every letter, card, and basically every written thing he has ever given me. I hadn’t read any of those in almost a year…it brought back some really strong emotions and memories. Those words got me through a lot of tough times that year…I know you military girlfriends and wives out there are feelin’ me on this.
I used to read them every night…sometimes twice if I was scared or felt like he was too far away. Austin knew how to write in a way that touched my heart. With me, his tough guy façade faded away and the real Austin would come out…he was sweet and understanding and even compassionate…but shhh…don’t tell…hehehe…he’d just die if anyone knew that he isn’t actually an asshole.
It was good for me to remember the good times and to remember that even with all of that distance and the awful way we were thrown into the whole mess, we made it through…and we were really strong…in some ways we still are…
Sometimes i feel he has PTSD. He shakes all the time when he sleeps. He freaks out a lot. It's just weird. I've read the symptoms and they all match up. I keep convincing myself he doesn't have it...I don’t blame anyone for it…I could get angry…but at whom? I don’t blame our government…I don’t blame the Army either. They are just inanimate entities anyway…it’s not as though they act with the intent of ruining people’s lives. I know some will disagree with that statement…and that’s ok with me. I am saddened that it is my life and Austin's life that were shattered with the fallout of war…but I understand that it is a reality of humanity. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else…but I have to believe that it’s all for a bigger purpose in the end.
I could be angry that the love of my life was taken from me for a year just when we were getting settled into our relationship…I could be angry that the man who was “taken” from me was “returned” as someone so different…but I’m not. Yes, Austin is a different man now then he was then…some of that is good, some is downright awful…but the truth is, I’m not the same woman I was when he left either.
So ok, that’s how life goes, you take the bad with the good and you try to make sense of it and sometimes you have to take comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that there are others going through the same thing and if you look, you can find healing and happiness in whatever life throws at you.
I know that someday it will all work itself out…I have nothing but respect for the men and women who have been, are currently, or will be deployed and the ones back home who love them unconditionally.To the women I have gotten to know through this experience: you are all incredible, loving, strong women and I thank you for everything you’ve done in my own life. Love ya’ll!!!