Mine is an act of blind compulsion. At 7am the squealing pulse of my cell phone goes off. I have nowhere to be, most likely, but anything later than that hour feels wasteful and lazy. I sit up in bed bed, fumbling for my glasses and make my way to the bathroom. Everything following this routine is the result of the necessity to hurl myself toward darkness, another day's end. If I don't think about the "great weight" or if I simply move forward faster than I think it can keep up, or if I tell myself that the inconvenience is almost over, not a pattern in the cycle that will soon form our life together, then the hours feel normal, like my friends', like the lives of conventional people.
No one spells out the phases of separation. No one has so kindly written What to Expect When You're Expecting Him to Return. Maybe I wouldn't have liked knowing that the last weeks would split my personality into multiples, none of which perform independently. Instead they vie for the spotlight hungrily, without reservation. I am angry and broken hearted and giddy with excitement, and overflowing-happy, while tears pool in dark spots on my clothes and vainly shouted curses ricochet from wall to wall, unheard. I have embraced the control that lies in day-long check lists and home projects and rendezvous with friends that have become my family. There are time-spots left open for washing dishes and ceremonies put into play for scrubbing sinks and the tub. This autonomy makes sense, this is what had to happen.
Now I am asked to hang in waiting for a coded word, then the next one and the next until he finally steps from the magic vessel that will bring him home. I'm no good for these terms, and what about after, when my lists are disrupted and my support group is pushed into second place, and the Army has control again of more than just an arrival date. How does the switch flip smoothly? How is it possibly fair to be expected to bounce from one existence to the other without suffering an inevitable and utter breakdown?