I have returned to Bahrain, but am just drained mentally, emotionally, physically and any way in which you can be drained. I is almost 5 am Monday and I have been traveling since 10 am Sunday.
While the last six months have been very hard, the past three weeks have been the most difficult for me since my mom passed away in 2007. I still find myself in awe during this journey. I am in somewhat disbelief that I am here, that my world has changed so much. Or has it? I still wake up thinking I am going to walk out the door to the smell of the ocean back home, the warm weather, sandy beaches, and even just the ability to drive wherever I want to drive.
In 2012, even though I was away from home, I spent Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle in Washington, and then Christmas I surprised EVERYONE by flying down to California and spending the holiday with them. It was pretty awesome. Really. A few people thought I would do the same this year, but it is different for so many reasons. After 33 years this was my first Christmas alone and away from family. To make things even more of a challenge, I was assigned to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Africa for three weeks.
I will write a full-length post with details and photos of my three weeks in Africa next week, but this was extremely stressful for me. I had to force myself to get in the right mindset and focus on what I needed to do, which was difficult. I have a new found respect for all of the members of the military who have done this for years and will continue to do so as they fight for our country.
My past has been rattled with ups and downs (as has most), and this journey has made me realize a lot of the things that I have leaned on to gather strength. I have never had an issue hiding my feelings (something that has helped and hindered me), but I have worked hard to focus on the present task at hand and getting things done. My mom was great at that. My dad is REALLY great at that, and both of them are where I get my strength in those situations. More on that topic in a later blog post.
Something has really clicked in me over these past few months, even years. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer we started living week to week, test to test, new drug to new drug and it really took a toll on all of us. We all handled it in our own ways, and as the oldest it was pressure to put the best face forward and run interference and contact other family members and friends for my parents.
I am very close to all of my grandparents, and even though most of them have passed, they have left an impression on me, and are still with me now. Whenever I needed a reality check, I would call my Gramma Glo. She always had this sense of wonderment in things, wanting to learn something new or talk about something different, but she was always willing to talk. Maybe her Midwestern pluck, her willingness to always chat, or just her joyous laugh but it always made me feel better. At home, when the phone rang at 8 pm we knew it was her. Sunday evenings we all got phone calls no matter where we were. If we didn’t we would chase her down and made sure everything was okay.
What has stuck with me though is something that I have looked back on the past few years with more and more analysis. Whenever I was feeling stressed out or worried about my mom or just life in general, I called my Gramma Glo and she would listen. Whether I was upset, sad, angry, or whatever, she would always calm me down and recite with me the Lord’s Prayer. Since high school we would chat and this is how she would calm me down about whatever was going on.
In all the stress, drama, ridiculousness, and other stuff life has brought up in my life the past few years I reflect on those phone calls and repeat the Lord’s Prayer which calms me down. Phone calls have been difficult on this journey, but I know she will read this and understand.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Reflecting on those phone calls with her and now when I feel I am about to crack calms me down and reminds me of the strength I possess. There was a lot of that the past six months, and especially these past few weeks. I am spent.
I guess this wasn’t such a “quick post” as I thought it was going to be. More to come from my time in Djibouti after I take some time to recoup.
Thanks for reading.