Combine the two words of the title of this post and inwardly I can hear the sighs and groans. Why? None of us enjoy waiting and most of us do not like the tedious discipline that practice involves regarding most anything.
When I shared with you about “So Many Details” (pamecrement.com/2020/04/22/so-many-details/), there was a bit more of the story to share.
After waiting for that cold December day when my handsome Marine Corps officer in his dress blue uniform made me his wife, we spent a brief few days in a nearby town honeymooning and Christmas shopping. We returned to spend Christmas with our families, but far too quickly January 1 approached.
On that day my new husband loaded our VW beetle and headed to a new duty station without me as a result of a promise I made to my parents to complete my college education. Originally marriage was to come after that happened, but the opportunity for leave meant I had one quarter of college left after we married. So, my sweet spouse and I agreed to keep that commitment and as my heart and arms ached, he drove hundreds of miles away and I went back to the university campus.
The decision seemed easier because he did not expect to be able to get married housing for months and by March I would be finished with college. But that was not how things happened.
I was trying to adapt to dorm life when about a week later my husband called to let me know he had unexpectedly gotten married housing and would be moving in within a few days. That was more of a wait than I could manage so with more than a little concern for breaking my dad’s heart, we decided I would leave school and fly down and join him with another promise to finish school.
My parents (especially my dad) were disappointed, but I boarded the plane and found myself in the arms of my new husband and began adapting to life as the wife of an officer on a Marine Corps base. My parents were gracious in their disappointment, but my unwillingness to wait three months turned out to be a greater gift than I knew it would be.
Not long after we started settling in my husband received orders that would take him away for five months over the summer and into the fall. I was not at all happy (nor was he), but that left the door open to return home and finish that last quarter of school during the summer and fulfill the commitment we made to my parents. Then I would have two months on base to wait on his return.
All went well with the plan and I returned to the base at the end of August and began marking off the days until he would return and looking at options to begin substitute teaching until November 1 came and I could hold my new husband in my arms again. The waiting was not easy, but I had time to plan for his return and make the most of every detail that would bless him.
When the day came, I could not sit still, and I waited for the phone call that he had arrived at the base. Back then there were no cell phones, so it was not easy to connect in nanoseconds like it is now. Hour by hour the day dragged by and I saw other husbands returning who had been with my husband, but he did not. It was later in the day until I heard from him. His particular duties meant that he had a great deal to handle regarding equipment and it was evening before I saw him.
When he held me in his arms all my angst about waiting disappeared. He was home and I was overjoyed. We again started living life together as newlyweds with a few days leave on the calendar to travel back to Ohio to see our families. We also made an appointment to see my doctor in Ohio as I had a hunch, I was pregnant.
The short few days back in Ohio visiting family were special as we were able to announce we would be having our first baby by mid to late summer. Our hearts were full to overflowing as we drove back to our one-bedroom duplex on base in North Carolina to celebrate Christmas Day together.
We started dreaming about what it would be like to be parents and after New Year’s I returned to student teaching. Our one car meant my hubby dropped me off at school and picked me up after the school day ended and it was at the end of one of those days that changed our life together and left an imprint that is evident even today.
I recall the expression on my husband’s face as I got into the car. He looked sad, concerned, and I knew he had something to share with me that I was likely not going to want to hear. And I was right. His news was that he had received orders once again that would mean a lengthier deployment and separation. The deployment would begin in California, but then extend from there.
My heart sank as the reality sank in and in less than a week we were headed back to Ohio before flying to California. And I didn’t mention that “morning sickness” was starting to make each day more of a challenge for me as well.
Once we flew across the country to California and I got checked into a hotel, we received the next news that would give us even more challenges and waiting practice. My husband would not get married housing and they recommended that I return to Ohio because his training regimen for the new assignment would allow no time for us. His deployment would mean he would be away until at least late March of the following year and it was now February 1.
That also meant that he would not be with me when our first child would be born. Suddenly we were facing the good waiting practice as we looked forward to a baby and the not so good waiting practice of not seeing each other for 14 months during which my husband would be in danger.
There were no words to express my fear and heartbreak. We had married just over a year before and neither of us ever thought we would be facing such challenges.
We both remember the day I was to return to Ohio as if it were yesterday. He was not given leave to take me to the airport. That meant that I needed to drive him to the military base, leave him, drive away, and drive on California freeways to the airport (totally new to me) and fly back to Ohio alone in the midst of “morning sickness.”
Neither of us need to close our eyes to recall when I drove to the top of the hill and he unloaded the car with all his belongings. He was about to go out into the field for training and even this goodbye could not allow for lingering in his arms. As I got back in the car and started driving down the curving hill to the highway, my eyes fixed on how he looked via the rearview mirror as he watched me leave. I tried to memorize every line and nuance of how he looked because I was acutely aware, I might not ever see him again.
Waiting practice is hard.
It always costs something.
It means sacrifice.
We would learn it also gave us something in return that benefits us to the present and current waiting practice.
To learn more about that, come back next time for Waiting Practice Part 2.