Monday, June 16, 2014

They moved the finish line.

On June 1st, the kids woke up quite happy, because this is the month that daddy comes home for good!

That's right. Bart arrived in Iraq on June 23, 2013, (after two months of training in the U.S.) and so was scheduled to leave there on the 24th of June this year, having finished the one-year tour of duty for which he signed up. We have tickets out of Amman on June 25th, and big plans to head to Los Angeles for some seriously well-deserved R&R.

I've been watching the situation in Iraq nervously for the past month. He already missed part of his last trip home because of some bad goings-on over there, and it was seeming to my armchair-political-analyst-self that the situation there was rapidly going downhill.

But I don't think anyone was expecting it to turn quite so suddenly and dramatically for the worse. Have you been following the news? Then you'll know that last week it turned from "seriously dangerous, what was I thinking letting my husband go there," to "holy hell get out now while you still can."

(Perhaps now is a good time to remind my readers that my views in no way reflect the views of the State Department or the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. As far as I know, there is no official "holy hell get out now" alert level in the Foreign Service, although they should maybe think about adding that into their emergency action plan tripwires. You're welcome, DS.)

So if you don't know by now that the bad guys are heading toward Baghdad, picking up abandoned weapons and whatnot along the way, then maybe you should start following the news, because I don't have the time to give you the details. In short: it is ugly there, and getting uglier.

Last Friday afternoon, I was sitting on a beach chair by the pool at the Dead Sea, worrying about Bart and daydreaming about our upcoming vacation, when my cell phone rang. An international number - never a good sign.

It was my husband, calling to tell me that he won't be leaving Iraq on the 24th after all. He's been extended indefinitely due to the crisis. And even though I suspected this was coming, I have to confess that my heart fell into my flip flops when I heard the actual words.

On the one hand: this is his job. He is good at it, and the fact that he is there is saving lives. I am so, so proud of him for the work he does, and I don't think he'd leave in the middle of this disaster even if they let him.

On the other hand: we were ten days away from our family reunion. Ten days away from the end of his tour. Ten measly little days. And how, I wondered, was I supposed to tell the kids about this? On Kyra's birthday, no less.

The sun didn't seem quite so sunny after that, the water not quite so sparkly. I just sort of slumped in my beach chair and stared off into space, selfishly wondering what this would mean for my vacation plans and my plane tickets and my status as a non-widow and my chips and guacamole by the beach in LA.

I didn't tell the kids that day, and I only told a couple of friends. But by now, everyone knows. Everyone at the Embassy has heard the news, and once again friends have swarmed me with hugs and good wishes and dinner invitations. The kids' teachers have all been incredibly supportive, as have the other parents at the school. It's weird, living in this little bubble, because I am surrounded by people who get it, who know what is going on in my house right now because they've faced similar problems (and worse).

My blogger friends and DS spouse friends have been writing from DC and South America and Asia and Europe and Canada until I think everyone in the wide world out there is looking out for me. I hope the other DS families that have gotten the same order to stay in place are getting as much support as I am. I am feeling very lonely right now, but also very loved. What a strange combination.

So I'll spend the next few days alternating between watching the news and avoiding the news. I'll carry my cell phone around obsessively in case he calls. And I'll haunt various offices at the Embassy, where they might have information for me about what is going on across the border, or ideas about how to move ahead with our planned-and-paid-for home leave, despite the fact that we have absolutely no idea when Bart will come home.

We're leaving here next week. But without Bart.


Nicole said... [Reply]

I'm so sorry. We'll keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

Popster said... [Reply]

We'll keep praying. Just know that you guys are always on my mind. Let me know if there's anything that I can do to help.

Alix Bryant said... [Reply]

So sorry! I got a lump in my throat just from reading this post. Thinking of you guys!!

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

Keeping your husband and all the husband and wives and individuals in Baghdad/Iraq in prayer. Sending you and your family hugs as these next days unfold.

Sara said... [Reply]

Thinking of you from Bogota (Sara C)

Deborah said... [Reply]

Hang in there, sister. Love and prayers going out for you all.

Jacki Williams-Jones said... [Reply]

I thought about your husband ehen I heard they were sending people out of Baghdad. And hoping he was able to lesve. You all are in our prayers.

MaryjoO said... [Reply]

Thinking about you all. Thinking how you held up with all the issues going on while you were in M, including your dog biting Seamus in the face and things we can't put in writing. So I know you can stay strong. You have a beautiful family, and it will be ok in the end.
Maryjo (and John)

Heather Dray said... [Reply]

I've been trying to find the "right" words to give you support from half-way across the world. But I fail. There are no "right" words, and nothing I say will make the situation any less crappy. Please know I am thinking about you and your awesome family and your amazing husband. ((hugs))

Please. Write your own stuff.