Thursday, 26 April 2012

The lonely towel.

Today I saw my towel sitting there on the rack, folded nicely and perfectly to the side leaving enough space for James' towel, except his towel is not there. It is with him on his ship, drying him each day as he works alongside thousands of other Australians to ensure our freedom.
Okay, thats a bit extreme. We have lots of towels in our house and I could hang another one up to fill the space but I like to remember that he is not here. I like to be reminded of what he is missing out on so that we can have all this. So that Oliver can have his Mummy home 24x7, so that I can finish my degree, so we can live in prosperity. But also so that we can live free.
Although it still made me sad to see my towel sitting there all alone, it is a perfect metaphor for how I feel right now. Like I have a big 'towel rack' to fill, but I am too neatly folded to the side to fill it.

Anzac day was yesterday. I wanted to go to the march but Oliver cried all night long. He was cold, or hungry, or just plan sad. In turn, I cried all morning. I was sad, frustrated and missing James. I wanted to watch him march but he is away. In his four years in the defence force, I have only seen him in one march. But that is the lifestyle and that is okay, it has to be- I have no choice.
It did get me thinking though. How hard I find it. Not just to be alone, or to play single Mum, but how much I miss James. I miss him being here, I miss talking to him, I miss cooking for him, I miss his scent and his smile. I miss him. But I know he is coming home. Even though he is out defending our country I have almost no fear that he will be taken from me permanently. No more than I do when he gets into a car, or goes to work in the morning.
Just imagine waving someone off and never knowing if you're going to see them again. Imagine seeing your husband, boyfriend, brother, sister, Dad, Mum, wife, any loved one walking through the door and never knowing if they are going to return.
That was a reality for so many people. It was a reality during WW1, WW2 and many wars since. The fear still exists for persons being sent to the gulf today, but not as much. It must have been horrible. Wives playing mother and father to their children, never knowing if their father would return. Mothers trying to enjoy every moment of their children's life, with a heavy longing in their heart.


        I try to consider things as relative to everyones lifestyle and experiences. This is something James has taught me. This is to say that if someone stubs their toe and they have never experienced pain before it can be worse to them than someone who has broken an arm but has broken bones before. The pain is relative to the experience of the individuals.Some navy wives laugh that their friends say they know what it 'feels like' to be a navy spouse because their partner has to go away for a week every few months. I don't think its funny. I think they do know what its like to long for their partner, and I think it is relative to their experiences. I don't think we are any better or any worse than any other wife (or husband) who has to wave their partner off for days-weeks-months at a time. We just 'know' what we are getting into. 


But when I look at people who had to say goodbye with the doubt of ever holding their loved one again, it makes my heart sink down to my toes. I couldn't even fathom the shear pain of having to let go from that last embrace. It terrifies me. I can't even imagine the fear, the angst. Obviously losing a loved one would be hard, but this uncertainty seems so depressing in a very powerful way.

I am sad that James is away. I am sad that for the next few weeks I have to fill his shoes. I am enjoying every single moment with Oliver, he grows so much each day. Yet I am sad that James is not here to share it. But he is coming home, so for now I will fill his shoes. I will play Mum and Dad to Oliver. I will be a better woman and a better mum.

Today, I unfolded my lonely towel and allowed it to cover the entire rack. It doesn't look so lonely anymore and I have a feeling that tomorrow I will be drying myself with a very dry and fluffy towel. I feel satisfied in knowing that some day soon I can fold it back up and James' will return to its rightful place. But not today.

Lest we forget, not only those who sacrificed their lives but also the loved ones who survived each day with out them.

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