Sunday, December 23, 2007

making up for lost time, before its even lost

Somewhere between Baltimore and Chicago today, I realized something about myself:

I tend to live life at one hundred miles per hour.

I've spent so much time gone, that I feel a deep, pervasive need to accomplish things in my life that are important to me but otherwise notionally impossible to attain while my life is on hold.

My life here is contrary to the idealized image of a soldier returning from deployment. There is no deep sigh upon my arrival and plaintive search for somewhere dark and quiet so that I can re-adjust. Similarly, there's no bender nights of drinking. There's no "come on, I've just got back! I want to watch what I want to watch. Can't you leave me alone for a while?" This picture is not atypical... I've seen it among friends and fellow servicemen countless times.

But not me.

While gone, and aside from those things that I really do want in my own right -- like a meal that doesn't suck and a cold beer -- I think -- and I've just realized this -- that I subconsciously shoulder a heavy burden of guilt. A primary but not exclusive reason for this guilt is my daughter.

Among the others? Well... my life centers on love. The image of it. The possibility of it. The ideal of it. The promise of it. The reality of it. I have so much of it myself and I want to share it. And I want to feel it in return.

Consequently, when presented with the opportunity, I run at it at a hundred miles an hour. And it is frightening. Scary. Terrifying to the object. "Intense," as someone told me recently... "Justin, there's no other way to put it; you're intense. You have so much passion."

It is different with Madison... I breathe, a little. Because I know she'll always be there. And I'll always be there. But when I see promise in another, I frantically cling to it, squeezing and squeezing.

I think it is because I'm afraid it'll leave. Because it has. That if I don't provide so much attention and adoration in that short time I am here, I won't be able to make up for the time when I am not. And I am afraid to death of not having built sufficient margin in a relationship to otherwise compensate for my frequent, maddening absences.

So. I've learned something about myself today. I just don't know how to fix it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

through me, my father yet lives

Today I had my daughter for the first time in many months. Because of my extraordinarily high deployment rate.

I've missed her terribly. Having had her this weekend just pains me... my heart aches to have her with me always.


In a recent conversation with my mom, I unexpectedly learned something about my father. He had only seen her once -- just for a short week -- before he passed on. Mom told me -- in one of those memories recalled as much to preserve his station in our life as to illustrate a point -- that when he'd met her, he was scared. Frightened.

At first, I could scarcely believe her. My father -- the stoic and brave -- ... scared? But I remembered. I remembered, actually, being a little irritated at what seemed my parents' reluctance... the lack of an offer to take her, alone, themselves, while I bid my time in my old stomping grounds. A chance for them to bond with her. A chance for me to taste just a bit of carefree freedom.

It was forgotten.

But Mom, telling me that Dad was scared, reminded me. Evidently, he confided in her that he'd never been so intimidated in his life. This from a man that spent his entire adult life on the edge of danger protecting other people. As a Sailor. As a cop. As a correctional officer. A three year old? Scared him?

He told Mom that he was abjectly afraid of disappointing her. My Madison. Of doing or saying or not doing or not saying something that would upset her. Because she was so precious. So precocious. So loving. So goddamned smart.

It's funny, that. My dad, the Dad. Afraid of a little girl.

When my mom told me this, a part of the inside-me broke a little. Because... in time... I'm sure Dad would have grown stronger. And would have grown more comfortable with her. And would have shared the myriad... the unimaginable and unquantifiable love and wisdom... and... he would have been wrapped around her little finger, I'm sure.

Dad's gone now, of course. He'll never get the chance. Neither will she.

It's up to me, then, to fill his void.

Earlier tonight, she spoke with my Mom: "Grandma." She later told me that she hardly remembers what Grandma looks like.

Another part of me broke a little when I realized that at least Mom's around to answer the phone.

Dad? I can only hope he answers prayers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Home Again

Home for the Holidays... I've made my sweet escape.

Double entendres for everyone!

I am happy.