I sped towards Ohio, leaving behind Fort Knox, the memorial service, the FRG, everything. Earlier that morning I laid in bed texting Diane, “I can’t do it. I just can’t go to this one.” As I drove, I could hear echoes of roll calls, rifle volleys, and bugles from past services. I felt like an asshole for not attending Gould’s memorial. I was afraid it would break me into a million pieces.
The kids and I were on our way to visit Uncle Bobby and Aunt Marlena. I hadn’t seen them since Grandpa’s funeral in 2005. We had been in touch recently and I decided that our March roadtrip would be to visit them. It didn’t take long before we pulled up to their beautiful farmhouse with all the barn cats. Ben immediately took to Uncle Bobby. The poor kid had only been around a handful of males since the men deployed.
I got some much needed respite that weekend. Marlena read to the kids, Bobby took them out to see the barn, Birch sat on the porch swing and strummed her guitar. I played with my camera and took long showers and ate food I didn’t have to cook. It was glorious.
One afternoon we took a stroll through a tiny town to visit a quaint toy store. Panic threatened to win when we were out; it was more manageable when we were at their home. Before we left for our trip, I gave Bobby and Marlena’s address to the rear detachment commander. If they needed to find me, they would come to the house, not to the toy store.
It was good to see Uncle Bobby getting around so well after having his leg broken in a car accident a few years ago. I wasn’t there for the recovery, but they described the device that saved the leg. It kinda made me want to pass out, what with all the screws and rings and whatnot. We also discussed politics, our crazy family, and life in general. Adult conversation was delicious. I left that weekend feeling loved and renewed. I felt strong again.
The crocuses and daffodils were in bloom when we got back. I loved and hated them. The end of winter in Kentucky was welcome, but I hoped it could continue a bit longer in Afghanistan.
Not long after we returned, my phone rang.
“There’s been another incident. We will have a briefing in a few hours.”