Monday, August 04, 2008

When Millitary Orders Come...

My parents and I went back and forth on my trip to visit Ronnie for his graduation from A School. Why couldn’t they understand how important it was for me to be there for Ronnie? How much I wanted to see his graduation and be there for him? “We are not letting you drive half way across the country. You are too young. There are too many things that could go wrong and Murphy’s Law seems to follow you around lately.” I ran out of gas on my way to work. An older girl, for some reason, was super jealous of me so she let the air out of two of my tires, threw ice on my windshield, took my wiper blades and I cannot remember what else. When I had my tires rotated they forgot to reconnect something with the breaks…I drove to work with NO breaks! Some how I managed to break a piston too. They also reminded me that the last time Ronnie came back the Army flew him home so I would likely beat me home. Add to that the time it takes to drive to Oklahoma and the fact they wouldn’t let me take off school that Friday and following Monday. So, I couldn’t go to his graduation. I was back to being in a bad funk. Ronnie was disappointed but he backed up my parents. Although he really wanted to see me he didn’t want to worry about me driving so far and missing school.

After Ronnie’s graduation I received a phone call from the base brought me to my knees.

I came home from work that night and my Mom said Mrs. Leadore wanted me to call her as soon as I came home. Oh how I hated missing phone calls from Ronnie. I guess he called her and she has heard some news from him. I called her back and she seemed a little weepy but that was sort of usual for both of us after we heard from Ronnie. We missed him so much. Right away she asked “Did Ronnie call you today?” “I just came home from work. I don’t know if he called. Mom only said that you called.” She asked me “Do you have the phone number for the base?” “I can find it if you need it. Is he ok?” “No, no I don’t need the number. You need to call him.” She wasn’t telling me much and the more she talked the closer she was to sobbing. I was getting worried “Is he ok? Is something wrong?” She couldn’t help herself. She started sobbing “I …I …can’t tell you. I …promised. He’s…he wants… You need to call him.” Now I was really worried. “I can’t call him long distance. My parents wont let me. “What happened?! Is he Ok?” She blew her nose and said through her sobs that she would call him and tell him I was home. Then he could call me. I pleaded with her “Just tell me is he Ok?” “Heather, I don’t know. I cannot tell you. I promised.”

I didn’t know what to do. My Mom heard me on the phone and she asked if Ronnie was ok. I told her I didn’t know. All I knew was something happened and his Mom didn’t know if he was ok. I was waiting for him to call. I usually took his phone calls upstairs in my room but I couldn’t move away from the kitchen phone I just used. I was worried. I didn’t know what had happened. I couldn’t let go of the phone. My Mom sat at the kitchen table while I paced back and forth within the distance that the phone cord would allow.

The phone rang and I picked it up immediately “Ronnie! Are you OK?!” It wasn’t Ronnie. “Hey Heather nice to talk to you too. It’s Clint. Can I talk to your brother.” “NO! Call back tomorrow!” and I hung up the phone. My Mom looked at me “Clint called.”

The next time the phone rang I picked it up just as quickly but before I could say anything I heard his voice “Is Heather there?” He sounded so calm I stopped pacing. “Ronnie! Are you Ok? Are you hurt? What happened? Your Mom was crying but she wouldn’t tell me anything.” I started crying. “Heather, I need to you to calm down. No I didn’t get hurt. Something happened today. I need to …” Then Ronnie started crying. “Hold on Ok?” Ronnie crying was a huge deal. Something is terribly wrong. I wished I could reach out and hold him, kiss him, tell him it was going to be ok. Anything to make him feel better.

In a choked up voice he said “I got my orders today.” {silence} Not knowing what to say I said “Ok.” Maybe he is so happy about coming home for Recruiter duty that he can’t stand it? “Heather, they are sending me to Germany! Did you talk to Sgt. Powell?” “What? Yes, I talked to Powell. He said he called.” “They are sending me to Germany. What did he say to them?” “Ronnie, I don’t know what he said. He wanted you here. Remember, he told us.” This time it was my turn to shhhh him. “Ronnie. Honey? Sweetie?” He gave out a sobbing “Yeah, I’m here.” “We already have a plan right? When you come home we will get married. Then I can go with you.” This made him angry “YOU DON”T UNDERSTAND!” Again I tried to calm him down “Ok, its ok. Tell me.” I could hear him breathing then finally he said “I leave tomorrow.” “Ok, how long will you be home?” Now he was yelling and crying “NO! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” I stopped talking so I could listen. He took a few deep breaths then said “They cancelled all leave. We can’t even get an off post pass. I leave for Germany tomorrow, tomorrow.” I heard what he said but he must be too upset to think straight “No, you get leave to come home before you go overseas. Remember, Powell told us...” He interrupted me “All I know is that I have to leave for Germany. Germany Heather! Tomorrow. They won’t even give us time to get civies from home.” He pauses again. “Remember when we travel we are suppose to wear our uniforms? On this trip we are ordered to wear civies and hats so we don’t stand out.” I was trying to take in all he was saying but it couldn’t be true.

My mind was racing. There had to be something we could do. Someone we could call to fix this! “Heather? Heather? Are you there?” Weakly I said “I’m here.” “Heather, I wont be able to see you before I go. We can’t get married before I go. It‘s a hardship tour. I have to be there for 2 to 3 years!” He meant it. This was real. I fell to my knees on the kitchen floor and held my hand over my mouth. No, no. That couldn’t be true.

My Mom pushed one of the kitchen chairs over and lifted me up in it while I clenched the phone in my hands. I lost it. I couldn’t stop myself from sobbing loudly. She put her arms around me and tried to rock me back and forth. “They are sending him far AWAY! THREE YEARS AWAY!!” I could hear Ronnie still talking so I pushed Mom away and put the phone back to my ear. “Heather?” I managed a few words “I’m still here.” He said “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry! I don’t know what to do…I don’t know what to do.” That phrase ‘to do’ there had to be something. I took a few deep breaths then said “Ronnie, we will figure out something. What did your Mom and Dad say?” Ronnie said “Dad called a few people but he says I have to go. I signed up for the Army. Mom is worried I wont have warm enough clothes.” He half laughed “She is packing up a box for me now. I don’t even have an address yet and she is packing me a box of winter clothes.”

It suddenly occurred to me that all the international flights I had heard of ,from my relatives visiting us, they went out of New York. That was our fix! I could meet him at the airport and we could get married while they waited for their flight!! I was sure I could convince his Mom to drive me up there. She was just as upset about him leaving as I was. If he was married before he left the Army would have to take that into consideration. You cannot be married and go on a hardship tour. If they didn’t let him stay then we could save up the dependant allowance and fly me over there to be with him when I graduated.

Ronnie was still half crying and talking. Excited that I had figured out a plan I said “Ronnie. Shhh. What are your travel plans?! If they fly you out of New York maybe your Mom and I could meet you up there! We could get married in the airport before you leave!” He stopped for a moment to think then asked me to hold on. “We have a military hop. We wont even be inside the airport.” After a few minutes he said “Heather, its late and other guys need to use the phone so I have to go. I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! Wait for me. Please still wait for me!” It was my last few minutes on the phone with him until I didn’t know when… “Ronnie. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! We will figure it out. Don’t worry. We will figure it out.” Before he hung up he said “Heather. I need you. Call my Mom she needs you too. I love you.” Then he hung up.

I was still holding the phone to my ear listening to the dial tone when my Mom took the phone away from me. She held me by the shoulders and asked if I was ok. I told her I wasn’t ok and I needed some air. I went for a drive with the radio blaring. This couldn’t really be happening. I know I should have called Mrs. Leadore right away but I needed to think. We needed to do something! There had to be something we could do! I was driving around aimlessly then I found myself at the mall where the recruiter station was. The mall was closed. Sgt. Powell wasn’t in his office. I parked my car anyway then got out and walked up to the mall doors. I peered in just incase I could see anything inside. Nothing.

I went back to my car and cried and yelled and cried and beat my hands against the steering wheel. My visor flipped down and I could see myself in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw. I looked down and my hands were suddenly on my lap twisting together over and over again. There had to be something we could do. Sitting here in my car crying was not accomplishing anything.

On the drive home the tears that were falling down my face stopped. I needed to fix this. I needed help. I needed to talk to someone. My parents were both anxiously waiting my return. “Are you ok? You know he is in the Army. The military can do what they want with him because he belongs to them for the next few years.” I asked if there was anyone we could call to change his orders. I explained about the recruiter and everything. My Dad said “It’s not like they are sending him off to war and he is in the infantry. Be thankful. If you really want a life together you need to get use to this.”

Ronnie said for me to call his Mom so I called her. I figured she was still up too. We talked for an hour or so trying to figure out what to do but came up with nothing that was legal. Sgt. Powell had given me a card with his home number written on the back of it but I couldn’t find it. I spent most of the night looking for it. Somewhere between 2 am and 4 am I fell asleep on top of my covers with my clothes on.

The next day I had to go to school. My Mom was not about to let me stay home from school. My life had just been ripped apart and I still had to go to school?

That song from the Ramones... I Wanna Be Sedated was all I could think of.

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