A month or two ago, a couple of girls from work and I decided to eat lunch at a vegan restaurant in town. I had wanted to try this place before, but T and the word “vegan” don’t ever appear in the same sentence. Except for the one I just wrote. But other than that – forget it!
This was the perfect opportunity. The three of us crammed into a cozy booth had a completely enjoyable chat. The lunch itself wasn’t that good, which I’m sure T will be glad to hear since he won’t ever be in danger of having take me back.
During the course of the conversation, one of the girls snuck a peak at her watch, then apologized profusely for being rude. She had a meeting at one o’clock and wanted to be sure she wasn’t late.
We completely understood and told her so. Work lunches can be like that.
But, when I saw her glance down at her folded arms and turn her wrist slightly to tilt the watch into view…it triggered a memory.
“I just remembered,” I told her a few minutes later. “My husband does that all the time and it drives me nuts!”
I don’t know if it’s a military thing or what, but he is constantly doing it. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing. We could be having dinner at a restaurant and have absolutely nowhere to go afterwards, but he’ll still monitor the time.
“You just remembered that?” she chuckled in benign disbelief.
I know she didn’t mean anything by it, but my oversensitive radar is always on and I immediately went on the defensive.
“Yeah,” I said. “You forget everything.”
And you do.
Back when the boys were deployed to Iraq, K and I would remind each other of our men’s quirks. One day I saw Baby Blue sitting in his stroller with his legs crossed. I mentioned how I thought it was funny that he was imitating Joe so perfectly. K asked me what I meant.
“That’s how Joe sits,” I said.
You forget everything.
During Iraq, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what T’s belly button looked like. This was a matter of intense concern for me. T, however, did not share my angst. When I told him my worries, he simply said, “It…looks like a belly button.”
Clearly he is not aware of navel diversity.
Forgetting is part of what makes it bearable, but it is also very sad. I don’t want to forget anything about my husband. Except maybe that he refuses to eat vegan food. And that his car is always a mess. And that he eats cookies before noon.
Okay, some things I don’t mind forgetting. But most things I don’t want to forget about my husband. When he came home on leave in May, I teared up as soon as I caught sight of him making his way down the stairs at the airport. In that moment, everything came rushing back and the emotion of it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Later, when I caught sight of a freckle on his ear, I cried again. I loved that freckle. And yet, its existence had been completely blotted out of my mind. How could I have forgotten?
By the time my husband gets home, it will be six months since I saw him last. I talk to him on the phone almost every day. But no webcam, no Skype and almost no pictures. If I look at old pictures of him, I can sometimes feel a glimpse of the essence of T, but it is fleeting. A tease, at best.
I realize that this is part of what will make homecoming absolutely amazing. But, there are also times when I feel like a perfect stranger is coming to live with me. And that makes me sad.
Fortunately, this, too, is fleeting. I know as soon as I see his face, all will be right with the world.
I mean, really…how could it not be?