It’s probably a little late to be doing a wrap up of the weekend on a Wednesday, but it’s been a chaotic few days to say the least.
The weekend I never wanted to end was here and gone before I could even grasp it. But somehow, I think it was everything Tim and I both wanted/needed and more.
I was able to work an 8 – 5 shift on Friday, and Tim and I got to spend the last of our date nights for a while at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Downtown Cincinnati. Despite not being a huge fan of red meat personally, it was still a fantastic meal, and even better company. While Tim and I may not have children or anything of that nature (aside from the pups), a good night away just the two of us doing something even borderline romantic is always appreciated amongst the usual chaos. After dinner, we took a scenic route back and relaxed at home, making it a calm and cool night before tackling the laundry list of things we still needed to complete before heading down to Louisville.
The weekend was as uneventful as running errands can be, making sure as much of the last minute things were tended to as possible. Looking back, it pretty much is a blur to me now, up until that evening when we went on to have Tim say his goodbye’s to the immediate friends that might as well be/family that couldn’t see him off to MEPS. It was a tough thing to do – everyone had that obvious lump in their throat that wouldn’t go away and had to work a little bit to blink away the tears. My heart broke with every hug goodbye – I couldn’t imagine what he was feeling. He’s unfortunately very good at keeping those kinds of things to himself.
Our last day together quite literally slipped through my fingers, despite trying as hard as I could to make the moments I had him in my arms last forever. We checked into our hotel a little after 3 o’clock in the afternoon (which was absolutely gorgeous, by the way, and I would absolutely recommend it – hopefully for more joyous occasions than this), and Tim and I tried our best to soak up what little time we had left. We enjoyed his favorite delicacy – Raising Cane’s – as his last meal of choice and before I knew it, it was already time for him to return to his room for the night. He wore a somber mask all day, his expression visibly blank. You see, in his ideology, not showing any emotions at all somehow makes those bad or sad feelings go away. Instead of having a good cry – which he did absolutely everything in his power to avoid – he thought everything would be better off if he kept any and all negative feelings inside, to not upset me. An honorable gesture, maybe, but it made me want to rip his face off for not communicating with me the way I wanted him to.
The day I’d been dreading arrived unapologetically, and was here to stake its claim. I got up and got dressed, and urged everyone that was there with me to do the same in a rapid manner. I had this giddiness in me that I couldn’t make sense of at the time, only to realize later that deep down inside, beside the sadness I was entitled to, I was excited for him. Tim was taking on this incredible, honorable journey, and I was fortunate enough to be the one to be by his side and watch him grow and change and totally kick ass. There’s a reason they call Marines ‘the few, the proud’, right? And I had the honor of being a part of this journey, even if only from the sidelines. He again had a stoic look on his face when we saw him, sneaking in a wink and half smile when we made brief eye contact. I wanted to hold him and hit him at the same time.
We watched Tim and the rest of his group swear in, officially this time, and there was something about that 5 minute ceremony that had my heart racing; this was for real now. This was all really happening, ready for it or not. After their swear in, the shippers (shippees?) were sent to complete their last minute paper work and travel arrangements. Tim was then returned to us for a whopping 50 minutes, long enough to have lunch in the cafeteria at MEPS without inhaling our food and exchange on semi-tearful hug before his final departure. That wasn’t our final goodbye, but despite my best efforts, some tears slipped out. I knew it was making it harder for him, so I tried to regain my composure as quickly as I could.
My sister, friends, and myself then made our way outside, where we waited for them to load up onto their vans. We were invited to extend our goodbyes to the ticketing counter at the airport, but I knew this was the hardest part for him, so I didn’t want to prolong this painful process any more than absolutely necessary. After about a half hour, they emerged, in a uniform line that I was afraid he wasn’t going to be able to break out of to adequately say his adieu’s. To my relief, they somewhat dispersed and he was able to join us for a couple of minutes. He had his one-on-ones with everyone there, and finally focused on me. He wrapped me up in one last real hug, and kissed me sweetly. When I eventually let go, he too joined the others in the van and they were off mere minutes later.
Despite my minor slip up after lunch, I was remarkably cool, calm, and collected. The tears didn’t flow over excessively and I wasn’t nearly as hot of a mess as I’d originally anticipated. And if that alleviated any of Tim’s stresses at all, then I’m glad I shocked even myself and was able to maintain my composure better than any of us probably would have guessed.
The apartment is just a little too quiet and still in his absence, though our dogs are definitely not missing the opportunity to take up his spot in our bed at night. I received a voicemail at 12:01 am the next morning, confirming he’d arrived safely at Parris Island. He’s barely been gone and I’ve already written 3 letters without so much as having an address yet (I’m hoping the constant reminder of how loved he is and how proud I am paired with the steady flow of mail brings a smile to his face on at least one occasion). While it will be different to say the least, I know this time apart will do worlds of good for the both of us, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Here’s to surviving and thriving these next handful of months!