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Last Time Ever I Saw Your Face (You Were Eating Peanut Butter)

I am so hungry to see my husband’s face that I’m hollow-eyed and skinny-fingered. After five months of this deployment, I’m practically Kelly Ripa.

Isn’t that crazy? I’ve been married to my husband for 26 years. I know what he looks like. I have zillions of pictures of him. Yet the months apart have left me longing to see him with my own eyes. Why is that?

I scold myself to be more grateful about the emails and phone calls that are available. Sometimes I’m not that grateful. Sometimes I am jealous of anyone deployed who has the bandwidth to Skype.

So I flip through my iPhone looking for pictures of him. The longer the deployment goes on, the more pages of pictures there are between my life and his.

Because I take pictures for him all the time. Pictures of our rising sixth grader actually reading a book (a miracle). Pictures of my peonies blooming by the barn. Pictures of the fixture on the gas grill that won’t turn. Pictures of me being silly with our grown daughter on the weekends.

I get nuttin’ from him.

I can’t remember why this is. Maybe there is a rule about hooking up a camera to a government computer. Maybe my husband has suddenly turned ugly on this deployment and he doesn’t want me to know. Maybe he thinks it is goofy to ask anyone to take his picture.

So I haunt the ship’s Facebook page hoping someone took his picture by accident. Once found a picture of my guy eating a piece of cake. Hey! They give him cake!

I think the sailors who run the Facebook page for our ship understand this hunger. They have offered a WANTED feature for families. Send your request for a picture of your loved one and they will hunt down that sailor wherever he or she is on the ship and take their picture whether they like it or not.

Still, the pictures that come from the ship seem so skimpy. Sometimes I wonder if there is a conspiracy among the deployed that we at home don’t know about.

We are so generous sending pictures of the new baby. Pictures of the new Superman costume. Pictures of all the girls at the beach. We think we are sending them a slice of home they can share.

But maybe these pictures slice them two ways—they love seeing us, yet it hurts them to see with their own eyes all the things they are missing. Maybe they think that compared to the march of the seasons at home, their Groundhog Days just mark time apart.

I don’t care about that, do you? I would rather have a picture of my guy wearing the same uniform and standing in the same spot every single day than the too few pictures I have now. Because I want to see him with my own eyes, check to make sure he is OK, know that he is still mine every single day.

 

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About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.