When a good man goes to War – The stories of those left behind
28 Mar 10 – Part 1: Farewell Wifey
After only just marrying the man who had volunteered to go on his ‘Gap year’, meaning a third year on FTRS volunteering for Afghanistan, I knew the nutter I was marrying well, but didn’t fully comprehend the emotional stress to follow, during and after.
I remember the day he told me what his actual job role would be, up until now I was naïve and in the dark. With an excitable spring in his step and a happy cheeky grin on his face, he tells me he’s part of a CIED team, which means nothing to me. Once he explains in Civvy terms ‘Front Line Bomb Disposal’, my heart sinks. A part of me wants to believe he’s joking but seeing how he looks like a child who has just won a ticket to Disneyland, I put on a brave face and do my best to be happy for him.
Newlyweds would normally spend their first married year together having fun, playing house, shagging and loosely planning their future. All that was on hold. Instead, it was sorting out Power of Attorney, Wills, funeral requests and sharing him for his final 6 months in England with her Majesty.
I learnt the real meaning of British ‘stiff upper lip’ quite quickly so he didn’t think he had married a pathetic, whimpering, wet girl. I saved my tears for my mates to only see. Like the ‘sick sense of humour’ of all soldiers, he loved telling everyone I only married him for his life insurance. Well nine years on and two children, I’m still here and the life insurance is only a fraction of what it was when he was on tour!
When the time came and we were given two weeks’ notice for deployment, we crammed in visiting family, dinners out, cinema, seeing friend’s, getting very drunk and having lots of sex. With seven days left to go, tensions were high, arguing had started, emotions were turned inside out, only to get a phone call to stand down and his flight had been delayed for another week.When our final 12hrs came I became taxi for collecting other soldiers who were ‘giddy, excited men’ which although at the time, I slightly resented sharing my last few hours with my husband and with other soldiers; Looking back it actually lightened the atmosphere.
Once we got to barracks, he needed to do some stuff, see some people and sort his shit out and I was given his one-man room to relax in.
As any good wife should do before her husband goes off to war, I knew I had one last thing to give him (like thousands of women, over thousands of years before me), sex that he will remember.
After our farewells, I drove off with my heart in my stomach, tears slowly trickling down my face until I realised I was driving but didn’t know where the hell I was or where I should be driving too. In the dead of night, I realised I was lost. I pulled over to sob my heart out, gather myself and get the map to get back to home, to begin my 6 months without my best mate.