After my husband and I had been dating many months, he called me on day, right before summer vacation, to tell me that he had been offered a job working the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England for the entire summer. I could hear the excitement in his voice as he told me and when he asked what I thought, I told him to do it.
The next weeks were frantic as he got ready to go - paperwork and work visas and passports, oh my. One night right before he left, we sat together on a swing in my mom's backyard. He told me that he was excited to go and that he would miss me. I told him that I was excited for him and that I would miss him, too.
His plan was to drive to Phoenix to see his family before he left and then fly to England from Arizona. The day he left Utah he came to my house in the morning. He'd asked for a picture of me and it was a scramble to take one and I didn't have it ready for him until the last minute. I gave him a picture of me, a card proclaiming some things of a personal nature and a really cheesy mix CD that I made to "remind him of me". He took my offerings, gave me a hug, told me he'd see me at the end of the summer and was off.
When I came back in the house my mom saw me and I remember her saying, "Well, it must be twoo wuv if he's got you crying like that!"
That was a long summer. Technology wasn't quite what it is now in 2002. No video chat. No skype. No phone calls. I would wake up and read the e-mail he sent to me at the end of his day, in the office. I would then reply and know that I wouldn't hear from him again until the next day. Not until his last week in England, when he was finally a tourist and no longer an employee, did he rent a cell phone and make one or two expensive calls my direction.
I kept myself busy that summer, as I am prone to do. I attended for a while and then got myself kicked out of a summer long teaching seminar. I redesigned my entire teaching curriculum. I got an amazing suntan and practically lived in my grandma's backyard. It was hard to have the person that I had decided was "IT" to be gone from me and have almost no contact with him.
I easily survived.
He came home. I flew to Arizona to spend the week with him before he came home to start school.
We both came home. We got engaged. We got married. We lived in student housing while he earned his MBA. We started a good life. The rest is history I suppose.
Fast forward nine plus years.
My husband is a terribly hard worker. He is industrious, dedicated, and a perfectionist in his job. He seems to have made himself indispensable amongst those he works with and is proud of the hard work he does.
I am proud of him, too.
He comes home from South America on Saturday morning. The boys and I are so excited to have him home. He will have been away from us for two weeks and we can hardly wait until that trip to the airport to pick him up comes.
It's been hard having him away. He misses out on so much. We miss out on our dad. But, everyone survives. Everyone stays busy. Everyone keeps going. We have plenty to do, plenty of people to keep us entertained and plenty of basketball to watch.
We get to talk to our dad every day, several times on most days. We see him via video. We hear his voice. We hear him laugh while we pull faces at him through the camera. It isn't as good as him sitting at the table with us, but it helps to fill the void.
I suppose I could be one of those people who wallows when their husband is away. I however, know too many women and too many kids who spend too little time with their husbands and fathers because of work, the military, divided families and the struggles of life getting in the way. Our little family is lucky that our dad works hard for us. I am lucky that I get to stay home with my boys and make messes, play with cars, and learn all the words to the theme songs of every single cartoon we watch. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
The times he is gone make us stronger. Make us tougher. Make us love each other more. Having someone be gone is a good reminder of how fleeting life and time are and how sweet it is to be surrounded by the people that you love.
But, life happens and you have to go with the flow.
If I had the choice to make a trade - to have taken months out of our lives before we had kids and have Ross gone then, just the two of us, or have him gone now, leaving three of us behind, I'd have easily made the prior choice.
I've been thinking a lot lately of my favorite poem from Henry David Thoreau. I recite parts of it to myself often, "And not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." It is important to me to be a person who sucks out the marrow of life and live mine to the fullest because when I come to die, I want to know that I lived an abundant and full and joyful life. That I made a difference in the lives of my children and others. That I have no regrets.
That's what is really important.