Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Together at last?

In the weeks that followed the letter, I found out I was supposed to receive a promotion at work to 1st shift Team Leader with some added responsibilities. Now, since I wouldnt be filling that need, they had to get someone else. Luckily I still moved to 1st shift, but it was really hard knowing I missed the opportunity for a job I wanted and earned. The toughest thing for me though, was knowing that Rachael and I finally had the normal life we'd dreamed of for like 10 years, and it was being ripped away from us.

As most of you know, Rachael and I have been "together" since high school (with one brief break period, but lets not go there). I put "together" in quotes because even though we dated for so long, we were never actually in the same spot at the same time. She went to Princeton, I went to Widener. She was still at Princeton, I was 6 hours away in the Army. She graduated, I went to Afghanistan. I got back, we got engaged, she moved home . . and I moved to Lancaster for work. We got married, bought a house together, ready to start our normal life together at last . . . . but I work night shift for over a year and a half. Then, when it really all does look like its coming together, I get 1st shift, an awesome job, and. . .well, you know what happens next.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Letter

"Pursuant to Presidential Executive order of 14 Sep 2001, you are relieved (haha!) from your present reserve status and ordered to report for a period of Active Duty . . . . not to exceed 545 days, unless extended or terminated by proper authority". Those words turned an ordinary day upside down and threw my quasi-normal life out the window.

It was about a week before Thanksgiving, and at the time I was still working night shift. I typically slept during the day when I worked nights, and when Rache came home with Chester, he'd sprint upstairs to lick my face and wake me up, and Rache would give me a kiss hello. Today though, Rachael sat on the edge of the bed and started to cry (Chester, unaware anything was wrong, continued to lick my face). She handed me a large yellow envelope marked overnight priority from the Department of Defense. Now I was worried, because the Army never actually pays to send you anything. Inside was a folder with some info, and a one page sheet that looked very familiar - official DA orders. I read the 1st line (quoted above) and my heart sank, and I felt a strange pain like someone had just kicked me in the balls.

After about 10 minutes where Rachael sobbed on my shoulder and I yelled disbelieving profanities, we settled down enough to call our parents and break the news. Poor Chester didnt know what the hell was going on, so he kept a timid distance for a while. That was a tough night, and I knew there were going to be many more. I called my boss and told him I wouldnt be in the rest of the week, and being an ex-82nd Airborne guy and a friend, he understood. So Rache and I got drunk, cried with our parents (yes, I cried for the 1st time in about 10 years), and went to sleep hoping we'd wake up and this would be a bad dream. Unfortunately, it wasnt.