I had forgotten how difficult communication can be when Brandon is deployed. Those first couple weeks after he left… several times a day I would flip open my cell phone to give him a call, forgetting that I could not reach him.
We have to wait for a call or e-mail from him, never knowing when that might come. When he does call, the connection is bad – there’s a delay, and so it seems like we’re talking over each other and most of the time I cannot hear what he’s saying. And of course the calls are never long enough – we talk the big issues fast:
How are the girls? – Fine, How are you? How are you? – Fine, Fine, Where are you? Where? Did you send a check to so and so? … Hello?
Then the call drops and there’s silence.
I don’t mention that Hope’s getting really tall. That she prays for her Angel Cake everyday. That she’s talking back a lot and I’ve got to deal with that and it’s totally new because I’ve never had a child talk back before. That sometimes I just will not do, she just wants her Daddy, and she tells me so. That she is a huge help to me. That she has an incredible memory. That she wants to play the violin… so we better start saving our pennies. That I told her I don’t want her to grow up and turn three years old in 13 days. That she put a patronizing hand on my shoulder and said firmly, “Sorry, Orange Blossom. I’ve got to.”
I don’t mention that Rhema is really beautiful. (He already knows that. But every day I think, Wow, she’s beautiful.) That she’s not sleeping again. That the EEG results are in, and I had to wait all weekend for the doctor to call. That I worry about her relationship with her sister. That she accidentally ate an artichoke!!! That I wonder if she wonders about him and where he is. That she managed to escape again (but don’t worry, I found her). That the other day her teacher said she repeated, “Hope”, “Mom”, “Dad” when looking at our pictures.
I don’t have time to mention all of the gifts and blessings that have been poured out on us. The generosity of people -unbelievable! - the kindness they’ve shown us. That I do get lonely sometimes. And overwhelmed. That I’ve got really, really good friends. That one of our favorite old restaurants opened up in the next town over. That we’ve got our routine, our pattern, things are just fine. That God is so good! That I wear his old Army T-shirts and sweats to keep him close.
Every now and then we get to video chat (using Skype). We’ve only been able to do it a couple times since Brandon’s been traveling in northern Iraq. Before he left, he took with him an extra webcam that Jenn sent us. It has been extremely important in helping us stay connected. (Thank you, Jenn!)
I thought that the video chat would be great for Rhema, especially since she does not do well with phones. It was initially disappointing – when Brandon would skype with us, I could not get Rhema to even look at the screen and see him. (Darn, we sure could use some joint attention!) He would call her name over and over, and I would try to get her to look, “Rhema! It’s Daddy.” She would not look, she’d just run away.
The last several times we got to Skype, I closed Rhema in the room. Even though she was bouncing around, never staying still long enough to attend to the computer screen, I told Brandon just to talk to her. “At least she’ll hear your voice,” I said.
And so he talked.
He told her he loved her and missed her and why he had to go away.
She never once showed any sign that she heard him.
Then, the last time that we skyped, several weeks ago, Rhema actually sat in my lap for a few minutes.
I dangled a popsicle above the computer screen.
And she saw him.
And he said, “Hi, Rhema.”
And she said, “Hi.”