"I've been talking to some guys who are just getting back from leave and it sounds like the Army will fly me anywhere I want to go. [How about Alaska?]. There is nothing appealing in going to St. George for leave, it's hot, desert and nobody will be there. Hmmm, kind of sounds like--let me think-- I know it sounds familiar... something like IRAQ!!!
And then there is Phoenix, what is there appealing about Phoenix? Let me think--hot, dry, desert... I'm starting to see a pattern here.
Alaska sounds so majestic and paradisaical that I can almost taste the crisp clean cool air just thinking about it."
By July of 2004 Ralexwin and I had been apart for a year. This is somewhat confusing to explain because of all the military lingo involved.
To help get a better picture, the time line was something like this:
August of 2003 Ralexwin leaves for Missouri for some military training he was in need of.
November 2003 Ralexwin receives his orders for deployment to Iraq.
December 2003 Ralexwin is home for Christmas, then leaves for Texas for more training.
February 2004 I go out to Texas to kiss Ralexwin goodbye before he leaves for Iraq.
July 2004 Ralexwin receives his allotted 'leave' and flies back to the US for two weeks.
Now most people, when they receive leave, choose to spend that time with their families--children, spouses, siblings, parents. Ralexwin and I decided, however, to take use the opportunity as a way to finally get a 'honeymoon.'
We flew separately to Alaska and spend two weeks with some family friends that were living up there.
Trying to form words around our time in Alaska is as easy as containing the flow of water through ones fingers. There are too many feelings and memories to define in 300 words.
Our time was blissful, exactly what we had hoped for, but it was marred by the coming departure and the desperate need to be near one another.
The days spent wandering around and breathing in the ocean air are darkened by the awkwardness of two souls used to doing things their own ways.
I had essentially been raising the children by myself for a year. I was accustomed to doing things in life a certain way and Ralexwin was no different.
Yet, I was desperate to give over the greater responsibilities and relax for a while. Alaska seemed like as good a time as any.
The gods didn't seem to quite agree with me.
After a week of lazing about we received two dreadful phone calls.
The first was from Ralexwin's mother informing us that Albowin was sick with an infection and she had been forced to take him into the doctor.
I felt horrible. My baby boy was ill and I was thousands of miles away unable to comfort him. I cried myself to sleep and wondered at what selfishness had taken me so far from my children.
Ralexwin was incredible. He was patient, and kind, and loving as I lay in his arms and soaked his shirts with my tears.
The second phone call resulted in a much different reaction from both of us.
Ralexwin's brother, who had been watching the condo for me, called to tell us that a pipe had broken in our home. Everything was destroyed.
That's when Ralexwin said his most regrettable words.
Speaking to his brother, while I sat in shock nearby he said, "Wow, glad I can go back to Iraq and not deal with that."
I exploded inside.
I ran out of our friends apartment and down the hill to where I could stare at their sleepy little town and hate all the gods of war and tribulation.
Ralexwin followed soon after me, but I was to angry to listen to him. Did he have no sensitivity!? He'd rather go back to a WAR than deal with his families trials?
Every sorrow, every emptiness, every tear came boiling up inside of me and I screamed at him. It's possible I even hit his chest a few times.
My wrath was all-consuming and was only extinguished by complete exhaustion. I crawled into bed and slept while Ralexwin called his brother back.
I had more reasons than I could list for not wanting those two weeks to end and yet I had two important reasons (Vicbowin and Albowin) to want to go home. I was utterly confused inside of myself.
But there was nothing I could do to stop time or fix my trials. Ralexwin left me sitting in our hotel room (he'd refused to let me go to the airport with him) where I numbly packed my things and stared blankly out of the window.
I was anxious to see my children, but I dreaded going home to the mess that I knew lay ahead.
To this day I can't handle the sound of dripping water without my stress levels shooting through the roof.