Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Goodbye

The day that I have spent weeks dreading has finally come and gone.  Tim has finally gotten on that big boat we've been telling the girls about, and he's off.  This is how yesterday went:

It was an appropriately cold, drizzly, windy, and gloomy day.  We left at 8 to take him to work and drop off his many bags.  He said we should say our goodbyes then, just in case we were not able to see each other again later that day at the port.  But it was not a very emotional goodbye because we were both assuming we'd get to see each other one more time that day.  [Dragging out the goodbye into two installments is not the ideal way to do it, and not the way we normally would.  But Tim had promised Delaney she'd see his ship, thinking that it would be there at least a day or two earlier.  But it didn't arrive in port until the very day all the Marines had to load, and Tim didn't want the last thing Delaney remembers about him to be a broken promise.] So it didn't feel like the last time.  I didn't shed any tears on the way home until we pulled in the driveway and Delaney exclaimed upon seeing his truck, "Dada's home!"  His truck in the driveway has always been such a happy sight for us all, and now it's just a reminder he's not here.

The next several hours went by like any normal day for the girls and me.  I did some housework, took care of the girls, and spent a lot of time soaking up the encouraging words people had for me on Facebook.  I know I am not alone in this experience.

Tim had sent me an email saying I should plan to arrive at the port around 5:45 or 6.  So once we were done with naptime, it was time to have a big snack/ somewhat of a dinner for the girls, and get ready to go.  We left by 5 and at around 5:15 as I was driving through Havelock, I got a call from Tim.  He told me he would not be able to get off the ship until around 6:30, so he said if I get to Morehead City by 5:45, I should find something else to do to kill time.  I was definitely getting there by 5:45, so I thought, 'What to do, what to do..?'  I realized I was a little hungry, and I saw McDonald's coming up, so McDonald's it was!

Delaney was so thrilled to be going into McDonald's, especially when I got her and Sissy Happy Meals with Littlest Pet Shop toys inside.  I smiled to myself, thinking I'd succeeded in making fast food into a rare treat for them, which is pretty much what it was for me growing up.  (Except for the time my aunt made me have an egg & cheese McMuffin and I got carsick afterward.)  I had a nice time listening to their happy chatter at the table, and not having to be in a hurry.  I got a couple texts from Tim, saying, "Where are you?"  and stuff like that, but nothing saying, "Get here now."  But at around 6:20, I grabbed dinner for Tim and we left.

Finding the port in Morehead City was easy, and as I approached, I could see a ship behind the high-rise condos.  Then I could see the gate, and as soon as I saw that, I turned into the first parking lot I could find.
It was so windy and cold by the water.  The girls and I wandered around and I took lots of pictures of this ship which looks very nice, but that isn't Tim's ship as I had first told the girls.  Tim's ship was behind that one.
The minutes kept ticking by.  I decided to put the girls in the BOB and go for a little walk.  Further down the road toward the gate, there was another small parking lot full of people doing the same thing I was.  I gave myself a mental pat on the back for bringing the stroller and the Dum-Dum suckers, because we were out there a long time.  Tim texted me two different times that it would be another five or 10 minutes, and then a half hour would go by.  It was nearly 8 when I finally got a call from Tim and he was saying, "Where are you?"  And finally, there he was.  He told me he'd had a long miserable day with one problem after another.

Tim stayed with the girls while I walked out onto a dock to get a better view of his actual ship:
We went back to the car to warm up.  Before I took the girls out of the stroller I snapped this picture:
In the car, Tim gave the girls their Daddy Dolls.  Delaney liked hers, squeezing it to hear him say, "Who loves Delaney?"  Annie threw hers on the floor after just a minute.  Oh well.
Tim wolfed down the cold McDonald's meal because it was the first thing he'd had since breakfast, and then we drove to Dunkin' Donuts so he could get a coffee and I could use the bathroom.  In the parking lot of Dunkin' Donuts, Tim said, "So, should we rip this Band-Aid off now, and get the girls home to bed?"  I reluctantly agreed it was time.  It was well past 8 now, and we still had a 40-minute drive home.  At some point, we just had to get this over with.

Back in the parking lot next to the gate, Tim said goodbye to each of the girls probably two or three times each.  It kills him to be leaving them.  He told me, "Don't let them forget about me."
Then we hugged goodbye, trying not to cry and failing.  I just couldn't believe that when I drove away that would be the last I'd see of him for 10 months.  We lingered a few minutes, neither of us wanting to see the other one go.  Then he went back to the ship, and I drove home, and that was that.

I had tears running down my face the whole way home, but I said to myself, "This day is finally over.  Now I can stop dreading it."

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