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Rearranging the bits and pieces after deployment

Submitted by on Monday, 25 January 2010 No Comment

It took two weeks to repurpose the tea pot.

His tea pot, which had steamed merrily each morning since the start of winter as it waited for Dad to get back from PT. His tea pot, because he prefers his caffeine fix via leaf, not bean. He’s tried hard to be like the cool kids, but he’s never truly liked coffee.

I stared at his tea pot for 13 straight days after he left. I should empty it and clean it, I thought, before it starts to get disgusting. But I couldn’t make myself move.

I thought I was crazy until I read a post from a Navy wife who couldn’t bear to throw away the last piece of pizza after her husband returned to duty in Iraq. It was left over from the final meal her family had had together before his leave was over.

Some of our reminders were easy to dispense with – the old boots he’d left in the middle of the family room, the extra beret abandoned on the kitchen counter. They moved because they had to. They were in the way, and the guys wanted to use them to create a salute to Daddy in the living room.

I don’t like the arrangement one bit. It’s an uncomfortable reminder of an Army tradition involving empty boots and old combat helmets. But that’s an adult hang-up from a grown-up world, a world the guys know nothing about. So their museum stands.

Other items we found while decluttering a closet that got hit by Hurricane Dad in his frenzy to sort out what was staying and what was leaving. His “sharks love people” T-shirt was one thing that stayed.

“I love that shirt,” Big Guy frowned wistfully. “It was from our best day ever. Can you wear it, Mommy? It reminds me of Daddy.”

“It’s a little cold for it now,” I said. “But I will when it warms up.”

We went back downstairs, to the kitchen where the tea pot continued to taunt me.

“Can we have hot cocoa?” Boots asked.

Usually, I’d heat the water in the microwave. But this time, I thought of the tea pot and how it’d warmed Dad on those chilly mornings. It seemed right that it now would warm his babies on this chilly afternoon.

Luckily, the tea still inside hadn’t molded in the two weeks it took me to get past the inertia. I rinsed the pot and filled it with fresh water. A few minutes later, the guys had their own steaming mugs in front of them.

It’s been our after-school ritual every day since. I don’t think the guys even connect it to Dad, but I do.

When it’s warm enough that we no longer need afternoon cocoa, there’s always the “sharks love people” shirt to go to.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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