I wouldn’t say that I’m scared. Mostly, I’m just uncertain. All the time, people ask me, “How do you do it? Don’t you get scared for him?” I nod my head, but mostly, I am uncertain, and that’s what makes me scared.
My husband joined the United States Air Force two years ago. He could have gone into anything. His ASVAB scores were off the charts. He could have been a machinist, a pilot, anything. But he wanted to first on the scene. He became a Combat Controller.
I could see it in his eyes as we talked to the recruiter that was what he wanted. As Sergeant MacCormack went on about the training they would receive and their expertise, there was a gleam in his eye that I hadn’t seen for a long time.
Before he joined the Air Force, my husband was a mechanic. He was wonderful, but he was bored, and unhappy. He did his job to support us, but I’m pretty sure that was the only thing that kept him there. As I heard the recruiter go on about how Combat Controllers train with the Rangers, Special Forces, and SEALs, and saw Jacob’s face, I knew it was over.
After that, everything happened pretty quickly, Jacob came alive. He had found his passion, and soon he left for training. I missed him, but I also knew that he was happy and that was what had mattered. Besides, it was only training; I knew exactly where he was and when he would be home. I was lonely sometimes, but that was about it.
Two weeks after he got back, we found out that he was going to get deployed. You should have seen his face that day. It was like Christmas had come early. I could tell he was nervous, and didn’t want to leave me, but he was excited to put his training into action. I told him he was gonna be the best one out there, and I no matter what, I loved him and was proud of him.
The day he got deployed was the hardest day of my life. We drove down to the airport together and stopped for breakfast. He had to be at the airport at 7 o’clock in the morning to make his flight. My hands were shaking around the coffee mug I held as I tried not to cry.
“You won’t even know I’m gone,” he told me. “You’ll probably just get your nose stuck in a book and then I’ll be home before you know it.” I laughed when he said this. He always made fun of me and my love for books. But as my eyes crinkled with my smile, an incriminating tear slid down my cheek. I turned my head so he wouldn’t see, but I wasn’t quick enough.
“Don’t cry baby,” he said as he wiped my tears away. “I’ll always be with you, even if I’m not near you.” After that, I tried my best to smile. It was his big day, and I didn’t want to ruin it. He’s been gone for almost eight months. I get his letters every week telling me what he’s doing. How his buddies Eric, Keith, and Dave are doing. They always send their love, and Jacob always ends his letters ‘Yours until the Stars Fall Out of the Sky.’ I can’t help but think that’s him every time he jumps out of a plane, but I don’t tell him, because I think it may upset him.
I love my letters. I keep them all in a special book that I put together and keep in my study, and read when I get homesick for him. But best are the times he can sneak away to a phone. It doesn’t happen often, but when I get that phone call I know he’s alright. There is no delay like there are with letters. No, phone calls get rid of the uncertainty every time. Because he’s there talking to me. Right then. Alive. Safe.
He called me last night, while I was at work. The machine picked up, so now I have his voice saved. “Baby, are you there? It’s me,” he said, like I’d have mistaken him for anyone else. “I’m sorry I haven’t called in a while. It’s been crazy here. We just got back. Everyone is safe, and they all send their love. Don’t have too much fun without me, but don’t miss me too much either. I know you like to worry. I gotta go sweetheart. I love you, and I’ll be home soon. I’m yours until the stars fall out of the sky.” The message clicked off after that, and the silence echoed in my ears.
God, I miss him. I’m not ever deleting that message.
How has your writing changed over the years?