Baby, It's Cold Out Here

Author: Linda Ambard

Baby, it's cold out there.  Loneliness creeps up on a person.  In unexpected traumatic death, there is no preparing for being alone.  Phil died in the prime of his life.  He had finally realized many of his dreams coming true and felt the need to give back.  I didn't think he was in danger; he had deployed numerous times in 26 years of service and I worried more when he was living on a compound in South America fighting the drug wars.  I looked at his deployment as an inconvenient road bump to what came next-the first assignment without our children. Our last child left the house the same year he deployed. 

Like many military families, my circles narrowed through the years.  Without even noticing, I had become really good at three year friendships.  I could instantly connect with my neighbors on base, but when one of us PCS'd three or four years later, the friendship became shallow.  I could run into these people ten years later and immediately take up where we left off.  I lacked 911 friends-you know, the ones that know what you need without uttering a word.  The friends that will come and just breathe with you.  Cry with you.  I never thought about how I had put everything into Phil and the children.  With the children out of the house, I looked forward to more time with Phil.  I looked at the deployment as a waiting period for what came next; I never considered what I would do if he didn't come home. 

The shock and the pain of losing the one as violently and unexpectedly as I lost my Phil created a body slam so deep that I felt physical pain.  I withdrew.  Three years later, I am looking around and wondering about where I fit.  I feel like the society misfit at times.  I am too young to have had to plan a funeral and bury a husband who was younger than me.  I am no longer a military spouse, yet I work on a military base.  I am at an age where most people still have children in the house.  I have no idea where to live because home was a person versus a place after living the nomadic military life my entire adult life.  I am too old to go home to my momma, and too young to live with my children.  The connections I have made through this loss are all far flung connections.

I long for a friend to call when I feel blah, want to get a pedicure, or talk to when I doubt myself.    I long for giggling and venting.  People who camp establish a fire fairly soon after finding the site to pitch their tent.  Fires provide more than warmth.  Fires provide companionship and security during the cold night.  Deep friendships do the same.  I am the problem, however.  I am wary.  I have always held myself at a distance due to shyness and insecurity.  Having Phil in my life deepened that chasm.  I struggle with wondering if there is anything else besides work, far away children and friends. I often wonder where I fit.  I look in the mirror and the face that stares back is mine.  The person that needs to change and to reach out is me.  I am broken somehow, but I want to fix me-need to fix me because it is cold where I stand.