I've never really figured myself an unfortunate person. Sure, I'm a klutz. I've set a house fire or two in the kitchen. I wrecked my first car when I was two. My dad jokes that my five broken bones and knee surgery paid for my doctor's Porsche. And try though I may, I can never seem to win that darn HGTV dream home. But in spite of those things, I have had my fair share of really random, lucky victories. I have no idea where athletic coordination comes from when you can barely walk without bumping into something. I am one of the only people I know who have ever won an all-expense paid trip in a random raffle drawing...in a textbook store nonetheless. And more than anything, the world keeps placing me around some truly awesome people.
I remember planning for my husband's first deployment to be absolutely miserable. And man, did it deliver. Washing machines catching fire, exploding toilets and sprinkler systems, locking myself out of the house--twice, victim of credit fraud, victim of mail theft, victim of a hit and run...I'm sure there's more, but I'm getting a little sad reliving it, so I'll just stop there. But even with a run-on fragment of misfortunes--and let me just interject here that it takes an awfully talented writer to master the run-on fragment--I never felt like I couldn't handle what was being dished out at me, because I had an amazing support system at that time. They were strong, and funny, and magical...and I will always love those friends.
After my husband had returned from his deployment, he left only two months later for three weeks of training with zero contact. In my stubborness, I decided that I could handle a measly three weeks after the long 10 months I had just survived. That was the first time I learned it is not the amount of time that makes the separation hard. It's that blasted Murphy. And it's a lesson that resurges with every single flippin' field assignment.
Everything can be humming along fine, and then they leave. That's when all heck breaks loose. First, your coffee pot will break, shortly followed by your backup coffee pot. (Which is all at once not a big deal and a total catastrophe!) You will notice one of your dogs has a red eye that's gone all wonky. Not to be outdone, brother dog will jump over the barricade you set up at bedtime, break into your bedroom, and poop on your carpet in the middle of the night. Your son, (not wanting to let dog #1 feel left out,) will poke his eye in the backyard, cry for two hours straight, refuse to open it, send you to the ER on President's Day because every other stupid clinic is closed, and then say, "Mommy, I fixed it! It's all better!" the very second that you get to the counter to check him in. And in order to keep on par with dog #2, he will pee his pants for the first time in months...all over the computer chair...right after you mop the floors and finish the laundry...
You will also have a real life ER visit that doesn't end at the check in desk. You will have people ask you if you've been under an unusual amount of stress lately. You will answer that your husband has only left one week ago and your coffee pot is broken. Then they will send you to a neurologist who says he will poke your legs with needles and actually send electric shocks into your legs for an hour.
But then my luck finds me again...or rather, my people. Family that is finally close enough to drive a total of 1200 miles in a single weekend to let me rest and relax. Family that is not close enough to drive, but that flies down for the week to hold my sweaty hands while the doctor shocks me instead of pokes me. Friends that wait on call to see if they need to pick up my children from school if my appointments run long. Friends that watch my children at their house on their sweet son's birthday because I couldn't get my appointment rescheduled. And people that I've never met before in my entire life, reaching out to me--offering kind words, encouragement, and prayers.
Every separation is different, I know. But time and time again, I relearn these truths: Separation will always suck. Murphy will always find me. And Murphy ain't got a chance against my people.