Now that all the insanity has subsided, I have had a few days to really realize that Allan is gone and he won't be back for a long time. He left for training in Texas on Sunday while I was in Illinois with my family and he was in Pennsylvania with the kids. I didn't get home until Monday night and didn't see the kids until Wednesday morning. We dropped his mom off at the airport Thursday morning and so we've been alone a couple days now.
Thursday night I was grateful. I would have preferred Allan to be here, but we all needed the calm & quiet-so we enjoyed a movie together complete with popcorn and root beer floats. I did cry a little when he told me on the phone that it was "laundromat and grocery shopping night." Allan is more than capable of taking care of himself. He was 31 when I met him and he'd been doing just that (and very well) for a long time. But I realized with that statement just how much pride I take in caring for my family. *I* want to be the one doing his laundry (and maybe grumbling about it sometimes) and shopping for our groceries and making our family dinners.
Yesterday it hit me a little more that I will really be alone for the next 13+ months. I kept myself kinda busy preparing for our first home visit from the foster care people. She'll be here Monday and the house needs an overhaul. With that in the forefront of my mind come the questions, questions I used to be able to ask Allan and rely on some input, but now the answers are "what do you want to do? You're the one there."
Me. I'm the one here.
I struggle because God has been teaching me-though I've been a slow learner-that being a woman is good. That I can embrace the vulnerability and call it beauty instead of weakness. He has shown me that I don't have to do everything, and that He created us-man and woman-to be different so that we would compliment each other. I have grown to love that Allan fixes things and I don't have to know-it-all. That he leads our children in prayer before bed. That he is my safe place and my comfort-I don't have to be alone or "suck it up and drive on."
Now...God is teaching me something different. What is it? I suspect it's partially to lean fully on Him in my weakness, while still appreciating my husband's role in my life. That I should take more responsibility for things I am capable of but let Allan do just because I didn't want to.
The other day I rigged the chicken coop with a heat lamp and heated waterer. It sounds simple, but it required some engineering and some crawling into tight spaces and getting poop all over myself. Normally I would have asked Allan to do that, since it required power, but the animals need to survive the winter and I'm the only one here to make sure that happens.
The realization seems to come in waves and it feels a lot like grief. I suppose it might be, since he is gone, though it feels silly to say and I berate myself because I get to talk to him every day. I know what loss is, this is not the worst loss I've experienced, but it is still hard.
Sometimes it seems like the waves immobilize me and I am not sure I will survive. "Really, Tara...a whole year of being the only one the children rely on? You're not a military wife, you aren't cut out for this."
Sometimes the waves have stones in them that hit me hard and surprise me. Waking up in the night with a nightmare and reaching over, scared, to find the other side of the bed perfectly made and the pillow empty. Thinking about Christmas and how I can't put up lights alone. I can't put up a real tree alone-but we got rid of our fakes before we moved. Allan won't be here and I'm not sure I really want to *celebrate* anything, but I need to make sure I do so the kids feel special. Looking out the kitchen window at my bird feeder to realize that it's empty and it won't have any seed in it for the next year+ because I can't reach it, even with a step-stool. They're silly things, but they are the things that catch me by surprise and knock me down.
It's been just a few days, I know it will get worse before it gets better. I try to remind myself of all the wonderful blessings waiting during this time. I will be so much stronger and so ready for Allan to come home when he does. He will have such an amazing opportunity to minister to the Djiboutian locals. The kids and I will be so much more solid and confident by the year's end. We will be able to get our emergency fund back on track and invest a little and actually have some fun together. etc. etc. etc.
Part of me wants to flee, I don't know where. Part of me wants to get everyone a passport and a yellow fever vaccine and go to Djibouti with Allan. Part of me wants to hunker down and just survive the coming year. Part of me wants to explore and find a million and three amazing things about this place, so I'm not miserable this winter. Those parts come in waves, too, washing over me completely and making me sure that's how I'll feel forever. But I don't. Because it's only an undulating wave.
Then I remember: so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and
carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by
craftiness in deceitful schemes. -Ephesians 4:14
I will remember that God has me right in the palm of His hand (Isa 49:2) and He has good plans for us (Jere 29:11). He is all I need and He will supply all the things I have need of on this earth (Phil 4:19, 2 Cor 9:8). He goes before Allan, to Africa, and He stays behind Allan, here with me and the kids (Ex 14:19). He will lift us up on wings like eagles(Isa 40:31).
I will work to remember that I am not alone. ( John 14:18, 19)