Whoosh. My whole self is numb. Suddenly I'm just me again and I kinda can't think straight. When I came home from the airport yesterday, wearing a two-sizes-too-large hoodie that smelled like Kilo Axe and Monster, and walked into my own house, it seemed so empty. Sure, there were still Monsters filling my fridge, and leftover cheesecake, and the Xbox was still hooked up to the living room TV. My room was in disarray still from the early morning departure, but I couldn't bring myself to clean up a single thing. I couldn't even straighten a pillow because Andrew had piled it there on the end of my bed when he had built his "house" Wednesday afternoon. All of his clothes (purchased on his second day here) were still folded on the futon where he had left them, because he had to reluctantly resume his light green and tan uniform and big sandy boots before returning to war, and would not be wearing jeans or hoodies or sneakers again.
I wonder how many cubic inches of physical space a 230-pound, 6-foot 3-inch man occupies? Because suddenly there's a bit of a vacuum everywhere I go. The inside of my car seems absolutely huge. The couch at Caitlin and Jeremy's house has room to lollop about now, and poor Cael actually gets a little space to nuzzle between the three of us. When it was four of us, Cael had to be content to weave between legs or climb awkwardly onto laps--laps that were always laden with plates of food, bottles of beer or cups of Cranberry juice-and-Coke, sewing/knitting projects, Xbox controllers, or the clasped hands of sweethearts (I'm talking about Andrew and Jeremy, mostly).
I stayed up as late as I could last night, nervous and unhappy at the prospect of waking up without him. I asked Whitney late in the evening, "The last two weeks were a dream, right? And he's actually flying into Charlotte tomorrow?" and she smiled and said, "Of course! Go to sleep and he'll be here in the morning."
I put on one of his black teeshirts (it completely engulfed me--the sleeves are almost three-quarter length on me) and gathered up next to me all the pillows he used for his little nests, the teeshirt he had worn on Wednesday (still smelling wonderfully Andrewy) and my laptop. He had given me a little 17-second video clip that he and some of his men had made in Afghanistan, and I probably watched it a hundred times last night. In the video, you see a shaky scene of four or five soldiers in a mortar pit, outside a dusty Forward Operations Base in the twilight. Andrew is holding a small wooden crate meant for holding their ammunition, and he looks at the camera and says, "Hey, check out these new rounds we got!" and he sets the crate on the ground. The camera leans close as he unclasps the lid, but someone exclaims "What the HELL?!" when a little brown puppy pops its head out. Andrew laughs and scoops up the puppy and tries to load him into the mortar, and all the guys are laughing---and my video player restarts and plays it over and over, and I touch my screen and touch his tanned and freckled face.
I'm devastated without him, but after all, seven months went by in a flash. Five more months, and I'll never have to put him on a plane and watch it disappear into the sky ever again.