Day 1 did not leave a good impression with me for obvious reasons. I couldn’t sleep last night after posting, it affects me so deeply still. We joke about it, tell the story, but when I think about the way Sean, a three-time honorable veteran, was treated it makes me physically ill. He has stopped reading the blog now because he does not want to relive this stage in his life. Can’t say I blame him.
I want to take a moment to describe my mental state at this time. It was the end of August 2006. My husband had been away from home for 13 months. I had not seen him for five months, but had spent those five months hearing every few days about how sick he was. I knew he had dropped at least 40 pounds, but had not seen him with my own eyes or touched him with my own hands. I mentioned before that my husband does not get sick, does not take sick days, and certainly does not complain (that is my job in the family–one I do well, I might add). So when I hear that he is sick, in the bathroom 10+ times a day, losing weight, not eating, doubled over with pain at times it nearly drove me insane!
I have a child who does not, under any circumstances want to go to school and rebels constantly. Pierced lip, ears, breaking curfew, skipping school, fighting at home, you name it. This teenager had some serious separation anxiety issues and pushes others away just to see who will return and still be there. I have a child who was transitioning to a life in a new town with us as the full-time family. There had been a hard road for this one for such a short life. We were adjusting to each other and dealing with residual issues as well. I have a child in the middle feeling left out because one sibling is acting out and one is having difficulty with the move and middle child is unhappy with the changes. The middle child is used to being the youngest child. The youngest child was formerly the oldest child in that household. The oldest child was acting out. And while I am not a single parent (praise to those of you who are), I was very much on my own.
I was starting a new school year with a class of 26 students. Typically, I get the few students who are more challenging because I have a background in special education and previously worked with students who were emotionally and behaviorally disturbed. 2006 was no exception.
The Family Readiness Group, of which I am the assistant leader, was planning for an October homecoming for the unit. I didn’t know when my husband would be coming home. I attended the meetings and helped with the preparations, but my heart ached at the thought of the soldiers coming back and mine not being one of them.
My husband just arrived in the United States, and I could not see him, comfort him, or care for him. I remember Sean calling home that first day and I think he was in tears (not that he would admit it) as he described how incredibly alone he was feeling. I sat down and bawled after that conversation. I did not sleep that night. All I could do was lay there and think, “How am I going to get him out of there?” I was feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and in no mood to mess around with stupid people.
I don’t mean to say that everyone Sean came into contact with was stupid, but as you read, you may be able to pick out a select few.