Postcards from Tradocia

one year after – from the home front

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of my return from Iraq. Mrs. Melobi has some reflections on my deployment, absence, and homecoming:

Reflections after a year.

Today is somewhere close to the anniversary of Delobi’s return from Iraq. [Ed.: September 16 was when we walked off the bus in Hastings.] I can’t recall the exact date because the date I looked forward to kept changing and we never imprinted in my mind. It was difficult to let folks at work know when I’d be gone because I didn’t have a confirmed date until two days before he arrived. All I had was a guess from Delobi and some messages from a family support unit that I didn’t quite trust.

It’s also almost a year that we’ve lived together. We did the typical thing and got married just before Delobi left for Iraq. And we’ve done the not-so-typical thing of staying married after his return.

Friends have stopped asking how it’s going. I’m not sure if they’ve been referring to the marriage or to Delobi’s return. New people in my life still ask and I do know that they are referring to my husband’s return.

I don’t know if the concern is because of memories of the Vietnam War and the return of the vets (or memories of movies) or if the concern is rooted in today’s experiences and controversies about an unpopular war.

When the company got back to Minnesota, they and family members had three days of debriefings. Some of which were helpful. Most of which were not. The chaplain’s talk was the best. He warned about driving, drink, and difficulties in family reunions. We listened and wondered.

The warning about driving was right on. I hate driving, so drove to and from Hastings each day. I recall him having trouble knowing how fast or slow he was driving. Even with the breaks about to fail and the sound of a jet landing in the rear, I’m sure my car went much faster than anything he drove around Camp Victory.

Drink wasn’t a problem before he left and didn’t become one. Before we married I warned him that I will not live with an alcoholic. I also said that I’d never marry someone in the military. And that I didn’t want guns in my house. But I remain firm on the drunk issue. Really we’re both too cheap to drink much.

We checked in about our relationship a lot. We had courted via IM and e-mail and were comfortable with that form of communication. I think that really helped us during the year apart. I found it very hard to get phone calls. That made it seem like he was miles and miles away. But an IM or e-mail felt more like he was at work just across campus. Delobi is also, in case you haven’t noticed, a good communicator. I always knew what he was thinking about and feeling. Maybe I didn’t understand it, but I think I usually got the drift.

I think the human memory does something to protect the rest of the psyche. I can recall how lonely it was at home waiting for him–waiting for our marriage to really begin. But mostly I feel lucky. I didn’t worry about getting a call that he’d been injured or killed. Neither of us became jealous. I think back and I don’t immediately touch any of the longing or the loss. Strange as it might seem, we had our giddy-in-love period while he was preparing for and living in Iraq.

I met other women with husbands or loved ones in Iraq who had it much harder. Delobi’s return to Iraq after leave was particularly painful, but he was still the same guy who left in October. He didn’t act strange while at home, nor did he change while away. I have some of the same guilt he does about it not being harder, about not having the “real” war experience. I had no kids to console, no loss of income, no real worries about him running into an IED.

He did, however, become incapacitated by the need to make decisions about food. Questions about what or when to eat, the basics of food preparation and planning, and the selection of food available from the grocery store seem to have been overwhelming for him. The chaplain didn’t warn us about that.

A major concern I had was about living together after he returned. Would I resent him moving into my house? Would it ever feel like our house? We planned to move shortly after his return. But he came back and seemed content to live without a closet or dresser. He was used to having very little space of his own. We did eventually put the house on the market. Then we eventually took it off when it didn’t sell. The reasons we thought we had to move just weren’t there. I do sometimes look at him in the basement, surrounded by boxes and stereo or some electronic equipment and think “what are you doing in my house?” But I think that’s more about being a newlywed than about him taking over the basement. After all, the basement is where I used to sit with my bag of Cheetos, playing video games, and feeling lonely. It’s good to have him bring activity and life into that part of the house. And to fill it with his presence rather than his absence.

I expected it all to be much harder. But that does not mean I want him to go back.

6 Comments

  1. G&G

    Most interesting. Thanks lots. Mrs.Delobi is also a fine writer. Needless to say we were really happy when Delobi got back! Lots of love.
    G&G

  2. The Pontiff

    Quick note about the drinking thing. If you are reading this and are getting ready to redeploy back home, take it from a self admitted alcoholic: Driving is hard enough when you first get home, even when sober. Get your buddies to cart your ass around when you get home. Thats the least they can do for you. They should also buy your drinks, but if they won’t do that, then at least force them to be your chauffer. You don’t want to end up on the side of 35W having a State Trooper wake you up, its funny unless its you waking up.

  3. Miss Anonymous

    Hey, Mrs. M. You wrote a thoughtful post about Mr. D.’s return. Nice to see a spouse’s point of view. Glad that you’re still happy in love.

    Minna

  4. Mrs. Melobi

    I forgot the one really annoying thing after Delobi’s return: he kept talking about how great the onion rings were in Baghdad and how he can’t find any here to compare.

  5. SGT JoKur

    The onion rings were off the hizzle fo shizzle.

  6. Mrs. Melobi

    Oh and it took him six months or so to stop dreaming about B company.

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