That first summer when my husband was gone was a long one. Sometimes in the hot afternoons I would sit outside by the pool behind my townhouse and watch the squirrels chasing each other back and forth along the white wall surrounding the patio. Every ten minutes or so a pair of jets would roar through the sky on their way to landing. They always flew in twos or fours with their wings almost touching, and when they were overhead they were so loud you could not hear even your own voice speaking.
You could also see them from inside the house, since they flew directly over the skylight in the living room. Over the years I must have seen my husband flying over me many times, although I never knew when it was or wasn’t him. Even so, he would always ask me when he got home if I had, noting the precise time.
It was the hottest summer in years, and every day at 12:30 and 6:00pm the bells from the church next door would ring. The night before he left we were outside walking the dog when the bells started, and we stood in the middle of the street and listened to them. I couldn’t help thinking then that for some reason I would always remember standing in the road listening to the bells. I realized that the next night when I took the dog out, he wouldn’t be there anymore. It was a hard realization to come to.
This is what the days are made up of--small moments like this. Seven months of deployment are made up of afternoons by the pool, and evenings drinking a glass of wine on the deck, and a trip to the vet for a sick dog, and a trip to a much-anticipated movie. The time seems excrutiatingly long when you are going through it, but it's funny, because as soon as it's over it seems like something you did a very long time ago.