I woke up the morning he left way too early. I couldn’t fall back asleep because I was becoming more and more nervous. I had a million and one things going through my head, such as: “does he have all his gear?” or “did he bring his….?” or other similar questions. I got up and got ready. I let him sleep in, because who knew when the next time would be that he would get some decent sleep. By the time I was done getting ready he had woken up. He took a shower and he checked one last time to make sure he had everything. We loaded up the car headed to the unit’s meeting point. We walked in silence to the big open tent where all the Marines where leaving their seabags and such. The day was like any other day in Twenty-nine Palms. It was sunny, perfect temperature with a slight breeze. I watched as all the families held each other in silence.
He looked at me and told me he loved me. He held me tight and told me he would be all right. He told me that this has to be the worst thing for a Marine to do, to leave his family behind. Pictures were taken, hugs and kisses where exchanged and assurance was felt within the entire unit.
He told me maybe it would be best to say goodbye now rather than when he had to get on the bus. I said no. I told him I wanted to walk him to the. I told him I couldn’t just walk away knowing he was still here. We held each other more and he made me laugh more. I held my tears and was thankful for my sunglasses. I told myself to just hold on, to make it until I got in the car.
The Marines were called to load those white buses. Those white buses I had been dreading for months. We walked together to the doors of the bus where we hugged and kissed even more and said “I love you” as much as we could until he had to let go to get on the bus. I stepped back and heard the buses start their engines. Once they began to move I felt like my heart stop. I felt like I was going to wake up from this any second. But I wasn’t, because this was reality. I watched those buses leave and tried with every being in my body to not chase after them. When the last bus left, I turned around slowly and walked to my car. The moment I closed the door shut I broke down. I thought to myself, “how do the other wives do this?” I started the car and headed home.
The house was empty and quiet; and it’s been empty and quiet ever since. No clothes lying around. No TV playing. No laughter.
Ever since that day I’ve been counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until he returns home. Then there will be clothes lying around. TV will be playing constantly. And there will be continuous laughter throughout the house.