I remember pretty vividly my time with Almost Fiancé. Mostly because it was pretty intense (in a good, healthy way). But also because I did a significant amount of growing up during that time and during our relationship. I remember quite clearly one of the worst conversations we ever had. I believe it was during his first deployment (I think by the time the second one rolled around we had broken up. Damn I am getting old with the details, y’all). I was already having a REALLY difficult time with him being gone, it was the worst possible time of year for it (he got news he was leaving a handful of days before Christmas), and if I am not mistaken, he would be gone for nine months.
It was awful. We were young (he moreso than me
because I wanted to get prepared for my cougar years early), we were separated, and I was crazy about him. And he wasn’t just gone; he was in Baghdad. Then Fallujah. Then… elsewhere. I can’t remember all the details. But it was 2005, a few years into Baby Bush’s “War on Terror”. And of course he couldn’t have a relatively safe job mostly, I think, because he wanted to kill me. I remember it being dangerous. And I remember bursting into tears at the mere sight of the news. And laying down with my phone on my pillow, completely afraid to go to sleep in case I missed his call because God only knew when we would be able to talk again.
It was the times in between the calls that were killing me. Literally. I couldn’t sleep because I worried and I was afraid that if I did fall asleep because I was exhausted I would sleep so hard I would miss his call. And when he would call (usually at some ungodly hour over in the night) we would stay up until we absolutely couldn’t anymore, usually well into the next day, talking and trying to catch up, trying to pretend that he was down the street and not all the way across the world.
And I don’t say that to romanticize this shit, I say it to real talk just how out of whack my everything was just because he was gone.
But the times in between those phone calls, when I lived like an Amish person, avoiding TVs, the internet and newspapers, when I tried desperately to convince myself that it had days, then weeks, since I’d heard from him was because he was incredibly busy, not incredibly hurt, THAT is what did me in. It takes far more strength to be a military spouse than I EVER gave anyone credit for. It was during one of these stretches of silence from his edge of the earth that I first started having slight panic attacks at the sight of unknown numbers on my caller ID. My pulse would pound. I’d sweat. It would be hard to breathe. My tongue would seemingly swell in between my teeth, sticking to the roof of my mouth. Everything in the world would go mute. I just knew every time that it would be someone calling me to tell me that he wasn’t just going to miss my next birthday; he was going to miss ALL of them.
Except it was then that I realized; no one would call me.
I wasn’t family. We weren’t married. At the time, I hadn’t yet met his family, so I was as foreign to them as any hoe he was running through (omg back when we were just friends he used to be SUCH a whore, lol). I knew his friends, but we weren’t the best of friends (though I did eventually grow rather close to one of his childhood friends). No one would call me. I knew exactly how I would hear about it; Air Force would call his mom. Mom would tell family. Eventually, word would get around to Gay Husband’s family (Gay Hubby’s mom and Almost Fiancé’s mom were close; GH and AF used to be close. Get it?) and Gay Hubby’s Mom would tell GH who would tell me.
Probably days and days after the shit happened.
And I would be an utter mess.
It killed me to know that I might be the last person to know that this man I was building a life with had died. Or that I wouldn’t be able to contribute all of the millions of little pieces of knowledge I had acquired about him during our time together to planning whatever came after. That I would essentially be cut off from the only other people who understood what I was going through in my grief. That I couldn’t contribute in any way to making sure that everything was exactly what he wanted.
Thus precipitated The Worst Conversation Ever. I’d been in a bit of a mood the couple days prior, what with the no sleeping, anxious mess I was, and he noticed immediately. After a bit of prodding on his part I finally confessed what was causing me all this angst; I feared that I would be the last to know if something had happened to him because I wasn’t his wife.
I’m having a hard time recalling the outcome of this conversation. I remember there being some exchanging of vital information, bank account info, location of his will, et all, exchanging my information with someone who would notify me if something happened that would cause him to be unable to notify me himself. It killed me, having this conversation in the very blunt style that Almost Fiancé was known for, because it made it real, it made it plausible. Speaking it into the atmosphere meant it really could happen. But knowing exactly what steps that would be taken, and that I would be involved in it made me feel about as better as I ever could have felt.
I bet you are thinking I said all of this to lend some kind of commentary to the discussion about the wars or about the importance of counseling and support for the families of deployed soldiers or even about the dangers of playing wifey to someone you are not wife to.
You would be wrong.
Today I had a thought…
If it was that hard for me, not being married to the man I was in love with, not being by his side if he was injured or dying, not being involved with the process of laying him to rest…
… how hard must it be for gay and lesbian couples who have devoted their whole lives to each other, and can’t even appropriately participate in the grieving process of their loved ones because of politics?
Think about that. That is all.