« Gee | Main | End of Watch »

August 31, 2009


At 4 a.m. this morning, the office of the half vast Editorial Staff was still as neat as a pin. Unnatural. Spooky, even. Fresh vacuum marks still showed in the carpet and my desk was momentarily clear of the usual signs of terminal procrastination.

No good can come from this.

In between completing various tasks at work, I spent the day checking off items on AF Wife's predeployment checklist:

Today I read a story on the main page of military.com that made my heart clench and my stomach hurt - it was all about what happens when a service-member doesn't make their wishes, should the worst happen, perfectly clear.

One month ago Roger Hager was killed in action. In that month his mother has had to deal with the horrible emotional side effects - emotions I can't even begin to process or imagine - and also with the details of what must be done when our loved one comes home to us through Dover. Among those details was something that Hager probably never thought would be an issue - his personal effects. And according to the article there isn't much; an X Box and a cell phone and a few other things, as well as items of an emotional nature like letters.

The Unit has a whole collection of charming sayings gleaned from a lifetime of being around Marines. "You know the drill" is one.

I do know the drill. It's not as though I haven't done this several times before. It doesn't matter - I still hate it. Normally I put everything but the essential tasks off for as long as I can. This time, I'm trying to be more systematic about it. Trying to preserve the illusion of control.

We had The Talk over the weekend. Can't say I came away from it with any new information but still, some things needed to be said. I needed him to tell me what his wishes are if he's incapacitated. Emergency measures and the like.

Find the will, the durable power of attorney and the medical POA. Make sure I have passwords to his online accounts. These things will make it easier for me to clean out his bank account, morph myself into a brunette Pamela Anderson and eventually realize my lifelong ambition of embarrassing the living crap out of my progeny.

Take him off the auto policy, notify the credit card company that he'll be overseas so they don't do something boneheaded like deny a charge while he's half-way around the world. Check the expiration dates on his debit and credit card.

Make appointment for financial counseling. Order him some sunscreen.

Finally put the Tahitian pearl pendant and earrings he bought me last time he was deployed on the jewelry policy. Funny, I never did get around to that last time.

Find his night vision goggles. Somewhere in between looking for the goggles and looking for his last will and testament I have an epiphany. Suddenly, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt why he's going to Afghanistan.

The bastard doesn't want to clean out the basement.
Can't say I blame him.

Every time I do this, I feel like I'm disassembling the life we've built together - severing hundreds of gossamer ties between us: the invisible strands that bind us to one another. I fully realize how idiotic that sounds.

Knowing doesn't help. The thing is, I'll feel better when it's done. More in control.

And I will feel that way. But there's a different kind of avoidance in getting everything done up front, in writing about this at all. Not my usual glib, seat-of-the-pants, everything will be fine response to things I have no control over.

Winter is coming. I can smell the chill in the night air.

Posted by Cassandra at August 31, 2009 05:17 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


You know I can't say i can relate to what you and other families with deploying loved ones are going through and/or have to deal with. But, know that you are in your friends' thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 31, 2009 11:33 PM

so, when's the garage sale? got anything good?

Posted by: I Call BS at September 1, 2009 12:48 AM

The bastard doesn't want to clean out the basement...Winter is coming.

I came over here to escape raking the leaves...

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2009 01:09 AM

You know that if you're ever "in the 'hood" you should come see us...

Posted by: camojack at September 1, 2009 01:33 AM

Cass, not to be rude, but if you ever get a chest on you the size of Ms. Anderson's, you will topple over. Your progeny will be well revenged.

Too funny you mention that...the Young Man who is no longer a CLU awakened me on my natal day asking what my first official Child Embarrassment Act would be.

I am having a senior moment over that...

Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2009 03:23 AM

I can't speak from the non-deploying spousal perspective, but it kinda feels the same from my perspective on the other side.

Keep the Faith.
William sends.

Posted by: William at September 1, 2009 06:04 AM

so, when's the garage sale? got anything good?

You know, I think Bill's rake is down there somewhere...

Heh :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2009 08:30 AM

So, when the going gets tough, the tough find a war they'd rather be at? :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 1, 2009 09:06 AM

Obviously you gentlemen have not seen our basement :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2009 09:13 AM

I'd need to take a week off, at least, to properly go through my room, getting rid of stuff I don't need anymore and organizing what I do. And that doesn't even get into what has been in storage since I moved back to Texas in nearly 5 years ago. I probably could have sold all that stuff, and with the money I'd have saved on the storage unit rent, replaced it all once I got another place of my own... I'm a pack-rat and I don't like cleaning: there are more fun/interesting things to be done...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 1, 2009 10:04 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/01/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by: David M at September 1, 2009 10:11 AM

All I can say is we have yer back. He will be in the prayers of Chez Engineer. You are welcome here anytime for laughs and giggles.

Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2009 10:55 AM

I suspect that a similiar motive was involved with the Dark Prince's decision to visit that garden spot known as Afghanistan as well...
His room smells like the place where hope died...

Posted by: Carrie at September 1, 2009 12:08 PM

...and here we've been told that hope floats.

I want my money back :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2009 12:34 PM

You know, I think Bill's rake is down there somewhere...

Gee, my name and "rake" haven't appeared in the same sentence since the 18th Century...

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2009 12:39 PM

we are always ready to help (in any sense you wants us to), just give us a howl :o)

Posted by: olga at September 1, 2009 12:40 PM

Heh. I remember doing the kid equivalent of this back in the day, when Dad went off to Vietnam and I learned to hate that smug bastard Cronkite.

Not much changes. I'm guessing it was true for Martha Washington, too.

Oddly enough, it is *much* easier when you're the one leaving, because you know, in the back of your neanderthal mind, you won't have to deal with the after- er, clean the basement.

Posted by: The Great Googly-Moogly Jiggling Giant Mound of Avoirdupois of Argghhh! at September 1, 2009 12:53 PM

Yeah, but Afghanistan is like the attic of the world, when you think about it.

Pretty high altitude, on average.

Hot, stuffy, dusty in the summer.

Cold, dusty, stuffy in the winter.

Full of a lot of useless junk that has been stashed away for years. And the windows are dirty, too. But Bill's rake isn't up there, so there's that.

So when you think about it, the Unit is going to Afghanistan to help clean up the attic.

Rationalizations. We need them everyday to get through the madness.

You're welcome.

PS. He'll be back, trust me on this. I see you two growing old together, with grandchildren on your knee.
Vera, Chuck and Dave. Or something like that.:)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 1, 2009 01:14 PM

Well, I don't know about whether it floats or not but right now, hope does not smell like roses.

Smells more like a barracks...and I have refused to back in there since I picked up the gun manual and a toenail fell out into my hand...

Posted by: Carrie at September 1, 2009 01:27 PM

I have refused to back in there since I picked up the gun manual and a toenail fell out into my hand...

BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... heeheeheeheeheehee.


Posted by: NRA-ILA card-carrying gun loving knuckle-dragger of Argghhh! at September 1, 2009 02:37 PM

"The bastard doesn't want to clean out the basement. Can't say I blame him."

Some people will do anything to get out of that.

Posted by: ZZMike at September 1, 2009 02:58 PM

Hang Tough Cass. "They" say the toughest job in the military is that of the military spouse. You have proven that you are up to the task in the past, and will do it again, no doubt with aplomb.

When in doubt, I am reminded of Patton's words: "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!" Be brave Mrs. Marine, and as the others have said, the Unit shall return to (I hesitate to say this, but I don't know another way) get old with you. Yes, even Units and Princesses get older. Doesn't mean it can't be fun though.

I am quite sure that anyone of us would do whatever we could if you find yourself in need of assistance. It is what the family does - even the ones who dress funny and eat snakes....we are here if ya need us.

Right people???


Posted by: Kbob in Katy at September 1, 2009 04:08 PM

I don't have as pretty words as some here, but add my list to those who'd do anything in our power for you if the need arises.


Posted by: FbL at September 1, 2009 04:18 PM

Okay, speaking of not having pretty words... there were some missing in that last comment. You know what I meant, though. :P

Posted by: FbL at September 1, 2009 04:19 PM

...speaking of not having pretty words... there were some missing in that last comment.

Did you go all PG-13 and shock the net nanny into fumbling them?

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2009 04:28 PM

I can't imagine how hard it is to do what you're doing. But having The Talk and taking care of all those planning details is a wonderful thing for you and your family, no matter how much it sucks right now.

In 20+ years of practicing law, I've seen countless Lost Widows. No idea where the car title is or whose name is on it; not a clue where the monthly mortgage payment coupon book is stashed; not sure what investments or retirement accounts she has, if any. Dad always took care of that stuff. She's crushed at losing him and as financially ignorant as a child, ripe for scammers and floundering with paperwork when she should be mourning.

You're doing your family good right now. I wish all your readers would do it, too. Doesn't have to be this instant, just get it done before you die. When do you have that penciled in, by the way? Oh, you don't know? Then get the lead out. Get 'er done.

Good on ya, Cass. God bless you and your family.


Posted by: Joe Doakes at September 1, 2009 05:49 PM

Thank you for understanding, Joe.

I'm having a bit of trouble with these posts. But I hope that perhaps someone will get something useful from them. If that's so, it will be worth doing.

I will be fine. I always am. I just want people to see that it's OK to be scared, or to feel ambivalent about a deployment. They're just feelings. What counts, as you said, is what we do about them.

Or at least that's my theory for today :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2009 05:57 PM

re: help.

You guys already help by being here. Where else could I go and find laughter always on tap?

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2009 06:00 PM

Speaking of epiphanies...I found out where BillT spends his time. The name change and costume didn't fool me though...the dog jumping up for kisses was what gave it away.

Bill in Doggy Dancing

Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2009 08:43 PM

We need to start a short sheet that we can check off every day until he returns. One of the high points of my day was checking off one more day until THE DAY finally arrived. I think my sheet; 368 days, was about 75 inches long and hung inside my locker. Sometimes I waited several days to check off more numbers all at once. It was a ritual that kept me grounded with the real world.

Heading for the WALL to visit some friends and get an etching. I hear Maryland is quiet this time of year.

Posted by: vet66 at September 1, 2009 08:48 PM

When my daughter headed to Bosnia many years ago, I got all the paperwork. I hated every piece of it, I tell ya. I said.... you'll be back, there's no need for this. And now I realize how insensitive that was. She needed to know that everything was taken care of here, so she could do her duty there.

Posted by: Donna B. at September 1, 2009 09:07 PM

I really appreciate you writing about this. I"m on state orders now preparing for the federal orders next month, and Her Accuracy (the wife) is an absolute rock. She doesn't flinch at all the paperwork and what ifs, and she never shows me anything but 100% support. She was like this on the last deployment as well. Her friends may see her worries but she doesn't show them to me. Your articles help me see things a little through her eyes.

Posted by: Pogue at September 1, 2009 11:11 PM

What Pogue said. The significant other (in my case, she is now, as she always has been, "The Bride"), is my rock, my anchor that keeps me grounded and from going to places I should never go. But she cannot stop me from doing my duty....

I suspect the Unit has reverence beyond measure for his Princess, and will do everything and anything he can to both make you proud and to make you happy. Sometimes Uncle has other plans for us, but then we have to remember that even Uncle answers to a higher authority and that Higher Authority is going to make it all right.

LTCs are usually pretty smart and know not to take chances that are not warranted - because like CWO4's, they have Princesses and heirs, or Brides and Kidlets to return to so they can get old and crotchety and support their sports teams and char or burn mammal over carbon cubes while slaking thier thirst with an adult beverage and watching the glowing orb set in the western sky with said Princess/Bride.....

All things must pass. Sometimes its harder, sometimes easier. But you have a network....


Posted by: kbob in Katy at September 2, 2009 01:44 AM