Who gets the call in the middle of the night?
That jolt for us hit this afternoon, when Dad came home with a deployment readiness checklist. Yes, it's finally happening, early next year. The timing will be eerily similar to last year's post-holiday departure for basic training. At least we'll again have Christmas, though experience tells me that the joy of the season will be tinged with the tension of anticipating what's to follow.
Unlike a lot of the Army-related paperwork, which always feels like you've completed it three times before and sometimes that's because you really have, this one was helpful. It showed us gaps on our to-do list, things we probably wouldn't have thought to check otherwise.
Power of attorney: Expires in February. Need a new one.
Dad's driver's license: Expires in April. Need to take care of that, because if the California Department of Motor Vehicles ever had a branch in Afghanistan, its staff probably has been furloughed by now.
Then there's the blatantly silly stuff - for us, at least - such as making sure your spouse knows how and when to pay the bills. That would be relevant only if I were the one deploying.
And then comes the part that knots my stomach, a question I'd already been agonizing over for a few weeks: What adults in the vicinity can be called to take care of the guys if there's a medical emergency with me?
Our answer right now: Beats the heck out of me.
Dad wanted to list his parents, but they're 370 miles away and neither drives. Even if they did drive, the guys shouldn't have to hang out, alone and frightened, with protective services waiting on someone to get here.
As impractical as his answer was, I know where it came from. His family takes great pride in never leaving their children with "strangers." Keep in mind that the guys' cousins weren't even left alone in my company until Dad and I had been married for more than five years and it will give you an idea of how restrictive that definition is.
And as unworkable as his answer is, I can't offer an alternative at the moment. We've been here just shy of three months, and I don't know a soul. Not well enough to ask them to pick up my kids, at least.
The situation is both of our faults. I work at home, which makes it hard to meet people beyond casual chatter at school and preschool. There have been a few social functions with Dad's company since we arrived, but he never gives me the details until just before - or right after - they've started.
At this point, though, fault doesn't matter. What matters is being able to fill in those blanks, so that children already somewhat at sea because Daddy's gone don't wind up tossed overboard if something happens to Mom.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.