I swear to you nothing good ever happens for me to be awake after 12 a.m. I'm either too drunk that I know tomorrow, or today as it will, will be horrible or I'm responding to something or doing something that is going to make my preceding days more painful than a Scotch hangover.
This morning is case and point. Had to drop Alissa off to deploy. Now, you may think you drive up to an airfield somewhere and soldiers immediately line up and board a high-performance military aircraft. First, stop watching "The Unit." Second, the Army has found a way to draw out this overtly and deeply painful event. We awoke at 12:30 a.m. knowing my wife had to be there at 1:10 a.m.
People put on happy faces it's hard to distinguish between bravery, callousness and numbed indifference of a decade of war as most of these soldiers and their families have been called into service of deployment before.
Refreshments are served for the family members willing to brave the early morning call.
After arriving at 110 on the dot...we wait in cars and open buildings while soldiers draw their weapons and final gear.
Now 3 a.m and sitting at the gym that has been opened up way early for this occasion, and still no sign of the soldiers that were left at their company.
False levity tries to be infused among the solemn and earnest somber occasion with upbeat music. The music does nothing to hide the fear and anguish on the faces of family members.
And so now we wait, the tears and facades held back by the hope afforded by the hour hands slow ticking which cant beat slow enough or fast enough.
The faces are tired. I don't know if it's the tired of the 3 a.m. or the weariness wrought after ten years of this. After all this will be Alissa's third deployment and I'm not far behind.
3:15 a.m. Soldiers arrive.
In a portion of military ceremony that is probably now known by the rest of the world. Soldier’s arrive in a gymnasium with their weapons and carry-on equipment for time with their families before they board the plane.
All of the sudden a familiar face arrives. The civilian movement control guy. I saw him on my last deployment in 2009. How many of these has he seen? Does it even have an affect anymore? This is the man who will take the soldiers from the gym, to the bus and into the plane.
4:45 a.m. We are warned that the time is coming to an end and that the soldier’s are going to form up to prepare to get on a bus to head to the air terminal to board a plane. This is the last moment families will have with their soldiers for nine months. Through tearful goodbyes the soldiers leave their families one by one to line up.
5:30 a.m. I arrive at home tired and exhausted and sleep for a few hours in the clothes I was wearing and notice that the empty space in the bed next to me will be empty temporarily but a long temporary.
Last time I saw her she was sitting on the bleachers with her gear where I left her, waiting to form up, as I walked out choking back tears.
It was 5 a.m. and that’s why nothing good happens after midnight, especially on this night.