Friday, September 28, 2007

Time to Come Clean

ESPN reporter Sam Eifling has just posted our story. There are also photo galleries that go along with it. Please take a look.

Now what I'm about to say might be a little shocking to some people, but I think it's finally time to come clean. I am a Martha Stewart fanatic. Remember that show on MTV where they brought in teenage girls to meet their favorite singers? The girls would scream and cry and just be a huge wreck. Yeah.. that would be me meeting Martha Stewart. I keep her Homekeeping Handbook right on my desk and treat it like it's a Bible. Pathetic, I know. Now you can only imagine my excitement when I learned that Macy's was going to be carrying an entire line of products designed by her. I spent almost an hour today in the home department trying to pick and choose between products. I ended up walking away with dish towels. THREE towels for only $9.99. And they're nice and big. I had to really talk myself out of a lot of gadgets because my kitchen is already FULL. I don't think I can find an extra square inch to store one more thing. And lets face it, do I really NEED to make a cake in the shape of a pumpkin? Probably not.

While I was running around the home department at work I also purchased a martini shaker. Why? Because my birthday is only 39 days away (not that I'm counting). And even though I can already legally drink in Wisconsin (it's one of those beautiful loop holes that states a minor may drink if accompanied by a legal guardian... a spouse counts for that) I'm still very excited for my birthday.

I've had a lot of people asking me in my classes what life is like living with ten other families. I want to explain this in greater depth sometime soon but not until I can find my camera chip and upload the pictures from the Fisher House. Before we left I took a ton of pictures of the common areas, our room, the fridge, just all of it. I really want to give people the real feeling of the house. Look for the post next week sometime. It's going to take a while to get the post together and this weekend is jammed with family time.

As much as I love typing I really need to stop procrastinating and continue cleaning my apartment. Maybe even get some homework done. Well.. maybe not homework tonight. We'll see what happens. I have all weekend right? (Someone remind me that I said this when I'm whining on Sunday night that I have TONS to do)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day Dream

I caught myself day dreaming today. Not an uncommon thing to do during Intro to Business Administration. What surprised me was what I was day dreaming about. I was driving down Georgia Avenue in D.C. heading to the Wheaten mall. It was crazy how real it felt. I could smell D.C., hear D.C., and see every building, every pot hole, every traffic light as clearly as I could when I was actually there. When we were at Walter Reed all I did was think about home. Now that I'm home all I can think about is Walter Reed. The grass really is always greener on the other side.

Since I got out of class I've been working on picking up the office. I can officially see two square feet of carpet. That's a small miracle. J.R. is going to have start thinking about what he can and cannot live without. We simple have to much stuff in our little apartment. We have a lot of work ahead of us in the next couple of days.
I should be getting ready for work right now. I don't want to go. It's beautiful outside. I want to stay in my apartment and clean and do homework. *Sigh* I hate the "real world" some days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Test Score

Today has been a good day. I got my sociology test score back today. 47/50 not bad. The test was curved so I ended up with 47/40. Gotta love it. I was surprised to hear the rest of the class preformed poorly on the test. It was almost completely straight out of the book. The professor than surprised me further when he said the next test would be made easier. I just don't understand the logic. This is college. I understand the desire to have the students preform well, but you don't get that result by making the test easier. You get that result by changing lectures, not allowing laptops in class (which he did today), and by getting students actively involved in class. We shall see how the next test goes. Hopefully this first test was eye opening to many of the freshman students.

This evening I was off to my speech class. I love my speech class. The professor is amazing and is very enjoyable to listen to for two hours in the evening. Our first speech is presented next Wednesday. Mine is pretty much put together and I was feeling confident. It wasn't until the professor turned to me after class and told me he was "looking forward to hearing my speech." Now I feel as though he is expecting a masterpiece. I don't want to disappoint. Very nerve racking.

Now that classes are done for the day it's time to buckle down and get some cleaning done. My parents will be in town this weekend and J.R.'s parents are joining us for dinner Saturday night. I guess that means I need to find my kitchen table. The office is still torn apart so I might finally get that together. We'll see how far I get.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

These Boots are Made for Strutting

I recently purchased an adorable pair of Jessica Simpson flat brown shoes. I love how they look and they filled this desire I've had for a long time to actually wear brown clothes (I'm a total black fan). I even bought a brown sweater to go with the brown shoes (Yes, I pulled a Carrie Bradshaw). I was so excited this morning when I put the outfit on. I left the house feeling confident and cool. I parked the car, fed the meter, and started walking to class. I've never felt so ridiculous. I felt so short. Which is so stupid since I'm 5'8" and can run around in tennis shoes just fine. It was something about the eighth of an inch thick rubber that I was walking on that just wasn't clicking with me. J.R. often tells me that I don't walk, I strut. Well... there is no strutting in flats. None. I'm going back to heels. More specifically, I'm going back to my knee high red boots. At least this way I will make some podiatrist very rich someday.

Speaking of shoes, lets talk about work. I have recently made the decision to leave Macy's. This was not an easy decision as I love the people I work with. The people at the store have become my Wisconsin family and I've missed them all like crazy in the last nine months. Life currently is very busy with classes, homework, and dealing with J.R.'s injured. It's hard to add in the stress of the cut in pay that was recently made department wide at work. The price of gas plus the time it takes to drive to work everyday really affected this decision. I'll miss my job, but at the same time I feel as though everything has fallen into place at the right time.

J.R. has an appointment at the VA on Tuesday! We are FINALLY going to be able to get help with the TBI. The symptoms are much more noticeable now that we are home and they are very disruptive. It's frustrating to deal with them. It's hard to sit and watch him struggle with homework. I'm so sick of seeing him fight to relearn everything. Every God damn thing is hard now. It seems so unfair. I hate that he's crabby all the time. He's always angry, always stressed about something, and always so tired. It doesn't make life fun for either of us at the moment. It will be nice to finally get some help and deal with what's going on.

J.R. made my night tonight. I walked in the door to find the dishes clean and put away. J.R. doesn't do dishes very often. I was so excited to not have to worry about cleaning up when I got home. I left the kitchen a disaster (that's what happens when you realize you have to work twenty minutes earlier than you thought). It was soooo nice to be able to walk in and just relax.

Now for more good news! I talked with Mary tonight for the first time in a few weeks. Mary and Brian are still currently living at the Fisher House. I'm happy to report that they recently went home to Massachusetts for the ground breaking of their new house! The home is being completely donated by homes for our troops. Amazing. I'm so excited for them. It was really refreshing to talk to Mary. Since we came home it's hard to talk to other girls. Most of the girls I am in contact with throughout the day are young and care free. That's not my life anymore. It's nice to stop for a minute and be able to talk to someone who really gets it. Someone who has been there, done that. I miss Mary.

Tomorrow is an early morning. They all are now. Oh how I miss sleeping in. At least I should get my Sociology test back in the morning. I swear if he doesn't pass them back I'm walking out of class. I want my score!

Monday, September 24, 2007


I'm sitting in sociology class right now. He's not handing back our test scores today. Not cool.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Fund

Tonight I am celebrating. The weekend is over, I'm still alive, and I'm finally able to sit on the couch and update my blog. I've made a bloody mary (don't ask how strong it is) and I have taken control over the remote. It's fabulous.

This week in class the homework was piled on. I took my first sociology test on Friday morning. It went VERY well. I'm anxious to see my score tomorrow morning. I am also in the process of writing my first speech. It is slowly starting to come together. I have to finish writing it this week and start practicing.

J.R. is also digging away at homework. Being a full time student he is really feeling the homework. He is doing very well in his classes, but is finding it increasingly hard to study. As time moves forward we are checking more and more symptoms on the TBI (traumatic brain injury) list. Difficulty focusing, memory issues, short temper, lack of sleep and on and on the list goes. It is time to call the VA and get into a doctor. Hopefully we can get some answers and help. The symptoms are to disruptive to everyday life to continue without attention.

Work is going alright. I worked all weekend. I wont complain to much about it since we were super busy and I sold a lot of shoes. I finally made some money (the joys of working on straight commission)! We have a new employee in the shoe department and I hope she works out. Today was her third day and she was finding it very stressful. I found myself giving a pep talk the entire day. It was exhausting. I can't wait until I can stop cheering on other people and cheer myself on for once. Wont that be nice.

Now for the exciting news. This weekend J.R. and I received a grant from the Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Fund. Minnesota is currently the only state that has such a fund available for it's soldiers. Money is raised by the community, for the community. It truly is an amazing fund and I can only hope that other states across the country will set up similar programs. For more information on the MMAF please visit their website.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Case of the Mondays

The alarm went off at 6:45 this morning. I was not a happy camper. I wanted nothing more than to tear the plug from the wall and throw the alarm clock across the room. It's Monday, what do you expect? I resisted the urge and got out of bed and left for class.

Sociology was beyond boring this morning. Chapter two in our soc book talks about experiments and the ethical way to go about studying people. Blah blah blah.... the same thing that you talk about in science class all through high school. It felt like a very slow and painful review of my four years at PHS. So today I sat in class on my laptop and got things accomplished online. I paid my license plate renewal, checked my bank account, and of course checked my myspace account. It would be criminal to let it go untouched. I survived the hour (barely) and ran off to "Pilate's on crack."

Aerobics was, as always, a long hour. I dread going to the class everyday but I love how I feel afterwards. And I must say it really is getting me in shape. I have more energy and I can already see a difference in my weight. It's nice to be able to fit into my work clothes once again.

After aerobics I came home. I had just walked in the door when my phone rang. It was work. Somehow they didn't have anyone schedules to work in shoes and asked if I could come in. I agreed to come in for a few hours so I jumped in the shower and got all dressed up. I arrived at work around 11:30 and by 1:30 I was ready to cry. Every time I walk in the door I'm overwhelmed at work. Everything is different. Everything. The computers, the stock room, the stock. I don't know anything anymore and I can't remember how to do basic things. You would think after working forty hours a week for over a year that these basic tasks would be permanently pressed into my brain. It just doesn't work that way. I use to be able to multitask and manage six or seven people at a time if I had to. Now I can maybe work with three people tops. It's frustrating.

On top of being overwhelmed and stressed out at work I am constantly having customers walk up to me and ask questions about where I've been. I must admit that it is flattering to have people remember me. I mean seriously, I sell shoes. They see me for maybe fifteen minutes when they stop in and shop. Many of them simply say welcome back, nice hair cut, we've missed you, and so on. A few of them have asked if everything is ok. One customer even mentioned she saw me on tv. It is this constant stream of customers that once again reminds me that I've been gone for nine months. Nine months. That's a really long time. I've found myself tearing up at work a couple of times. Once I had to walk off the floor to compose myself. I'm blown away by how much these people care for a person they hardly know.

I left work at 1:30. I just couldn't make it through the day. I don't know if it was just a mental block or what. I hate that I had to leave and I hate even more that I'm so stressed out when I walk in the doors. It's not fun. It's retail. This job shouldn't be this stressful. It's just not worth it.

I came home and made tuna noodle casserole. It sounded like good comfort food. J.R. arrived home shortly after me and together we sat down and complained about life. He's been so insanely busy with school. I feel as though we see each other without actually SEEING each other. We're both so busy with studying and working and doing our own thing that quality time together is lacking. It sucks. We took a nap on the couch together this evening. My phone, which was quiet all day, rang about thirty times during the nap... go figure. But a nap is a nap and I enjoyed it.

As for the rest of my night, I will be researching The Sword of Damocles. Interesting story, you should google it. I will be writing a four to six minute speech about this story. Not a hard thing to do for someone who likes to stand in front of people and ramble.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

So Tired

Tomorrow is Monday. Monday means school. School means dance aerobics. Yuck.

There is so much to say here, but so little energy to put towards writing. I can't believe how much school and work is sucking out of me. Tomorrow is a relaxing day. Hopefully I'll be able to sit down and really write. Wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Silent Suffering

I walk beside my husband, my place I will not leave.
I must not talk or make a sound, for I'm not to be seen.

I have no thoughts that are my own, no opinions that are heard.
I am just a caretaker for one injured soldier.

His arm is gone, a finger too, God damn the EFP.
I can't forgive the tortured souls who placed the evil deed.

I leave the life I know behind to go be by his side.
I love him and I'll care for him until the end of time.

My flesh is free of cuts and scars, my limbs are all intact.
But my mind is overwhelmed, my dreams confirm the facts.

I wont forget the nights he cried and held my hand in pain.
The memories are part of me, they're etched into my brain.

Reporters come, reporters go, all asking the same questions.
How has J.R. coped with all the trauma and depression?

They turn to me and then they ask what I have come to dread;
You must be proud, but life has changed. Do you still love this man?

If my actions do not scream the truth then I am lost for words.
How could you ever doubt my love for my fearless soldier?

Don't bother asking if I have my job still back at home.
For who would want to hear my worries that you've now condoned.

I past a smile to my face and play the perfect wife.
America will watch and say, "They've overcome their strife."

My country does not see my pain or hear my cries for help.
For I am just a lowly wife who suffers by herself.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

School is now in Session

The first "week" of class is finally over and what a week it has been.

I walked into my intro to sociology class first thing Wednesday morning. I was greeted by a very full classroom with only one or two seats left. I made my way to an open seat and as I sat down the questioning began.

"Who in this classroom is a freshman?"

It's no surprise that every hand in the room went up. We sat in the class for an hour discussing the syllabus and the homework that was due on Friday. As class ended the girl sitting next to me turned, looked at my hand, and then looked back at me.

"So... are you like married?"


"That's like... kinda screwed up."

Mental note - do NOT talk to this girl again. It's not surprising that I did not see the girl on Friday morning. In fact, half the students weren't in class on Friday morning. Out of the students that did manage to make it to the sunshine soc class only a small handful of us had actually done the reading. As I sat waiting for the class to begin I listened as the new freshman discussed the previous night.

"Did you see so and so???? I think they puked like four times."

Yup, I'm definitely back at college.

Fundamentals of speech had a similar feeling. It is, once again, all freshman. As the professor drilled us about our lives it was announced to the entire class that I was married. This lead to a game of twenty question come icebreaker time. It will be an interesting semester.

Intro to business administration is one big lecture. Basically you show up every day and you pass. Gotta love it.

Then there is aerobic dance. Now it is my personal feelings that this class is named completely wrong. It should be called "Pilates on Crack." It is of course full of girls that are 5'4" who weigh 90 pounds and can kick their leg behind their head. Must be nice. I made it through the hour of torture and I'm not anxious to go back on Monday for more. At least the class is only half a semester and by the time it's over I should be in fantastic shape.

I am definitely the old married lady in my classes, but I'm ok with that. I do find myself having to a take deep breath and remind myself that I too was once a giggly young girl fresh out of high school. It's only a matter of time before the freshman settle in and classes take more time and energy. It will definitely be an interesting semester.

This next week is very full so don't be surprised if my blog is quiet. Work starts tomorrow and Wednesday is a marathon day of activities. It's nice to have a routine, but it is taking some adjusting.

As one last side note, the post office just delivered a large package of mail. The post office at Walter Reed had decided to not forward my mail on a regular basis and waited until they had collected a rather large amount of letters and packages. Inside this ginormous envelope was a mix of wedding invitations (one of which is happening today and I had no idea about since I just got the mail), government paperwork that needed to be done weeks ago but was in limbo, and a spare key to the apartment that J.R. has been waiting for. I hate the post office.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Yesterday, J.R. took me into the cities and bought me a new bike. Bike shopping is not easy when you are a girl with a thirty-four inch inseam and a torso that's much shorter. It took forever to find a bike that was the proper height and didn't have me leaning to far forward. After about an hour we found a bike that is a decent fit. I've been wanting to get into road biking for a while now so once we got home we both got ready and went for a ride. Here's what I've learned:

1. Bugs taste horrible. Yes, absolutely horrible. I know this because I've now eaten two. Two!!! It's just simply not worth the "added protein."

2. Your butt is going to hurt. And when I say hurt, I mean pain every time you sit down.

3. My husband has legs twice the size of mine. He can pedal faster, harder, and with much less effort.

We went and rode again tonight. It took a good five minutes before I could bring myself to sit completely down on my bike seat. My butt hurts that much. We messed around with the seat last night and it was in a much better position tonight so it was much more comfortable. Still, it's not the Cadillac of bikes. It's designed for function.

Classes at Stout start tomorrow. I'm excited to be a student again but nervous at the same time. I'm not sure where a couple of my classes are and I'm horrible with maps. It's going to be an interesting day tomorrow.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Phone Call

*****December 19th, 2006*****

That cannot be my alarm. Tell me it is not my alarm....... God damn it.... it's the alarm. Ten more minutes. Is that so much to ask for? This is ridiculous. It's 3:45 in the morning and my alarm just went off. Do people really need to Christmas shop at six am?! This is stupid. Maybe I'll just call in. Wait... it's Christmas time.. Christmas means people shopping... people shopping means commission... commission means I eat this month. God damn it.

I rolled out of bed and jumped in the shower. My head was pounding. My stomach was in knots. I had felt this way since December 4th, the day that J.R. went back to Iraq.

Suck it up. You're going to work. Just get in the car, drive to Eau Claire, and put on a happy face. Yes, glue on the smile. Smile. Why is it so hard to smile? What is going on with you? What is wrong with you? He's in Iraq, big deal. He's been there for months, he's a good soldier. He's fine. Come on.. smile. That's it.. no more thinking about him. It's time for work. Think shoes Josie.. think shoes.

I arrived at work, fifteen minutes early as normal. I turned on my registers, looked over the floor, and checked my stock of new shoes that had just arrived. Having made a mental list in my mind of small jobs to occupy my time while the store was still quiet, I left for the morning meeting.

"Good morning! You'll see the credit goal is..."

I wonder what he's doing. He has to be in Anaconda by now. He said they were running a convoy up there. I bet he's still sleeping. I wonder when they're leaving to head back down south. They'll go tonight. They have to. Oh shit.. hey focus you're in the meeting. Think work.

"Alright, that wraps things up. Sell, sell, sell, and have a great day everyone!!"

I walked back to my shoe department and began to rearrange the clearance section. Mindless work that required absolutely no attention on my part.

Ugh.. I feel horrible. I think I'm going to puke. Don't puke. Do not puke. You are fine.

Finally around eight am customers started filling the store. My day was beginning.

"Excuse me mam? Mam?"

"Oh hi, I'm sorry. I didn't hear you. Can I pull a size out for you?"

"A nine."

"Right, be right back."

I walked into the stock room and began to run up and down the aisles of shoes.

Don't puke, don't puke, don't puke. Shit.... what shoe was she looking for? It was a boot.. the one with fur?

I walked out of the stock room with no shoe. This never happens. Why can't I focus?

"I'm sorry, can you show me the shoe again? I must not be fully awake yet."

And so went my day. Customer after customer, shoe after shoe. I left work at two pm exhausted and stressed out. For December there was very little snow on the ground. I was thankful for this as I ran to my car, anxious to get out of the bitter cold. As I turned the car on my phone rang.


"Hey, Jos. It's Cheri."

"Hey Cheri. What's goin on?"

"Hey, Angie and I were thinking we should get together tonight. We're both leaving Menomonie in the morning for Christmas break. How about your place around five? We'll bring all the food and drinks."

"I dunno Cheri. I've been up since the crack of dawn and I'm really crabby. I don't think I'll be much fun to be around."

"Jos, it's the last night we're going to be in town for a while. We're coming over."

"Alright, alright. But I have to be in bed by nine. I have another day of hell tomorrow at work."

"No problem. We'll see you in a bit."

Why are they coming over? All I wanted was a quiet night in my apartment. This is so not cool. Not cool guys. OK, new plan for the night. Go home, sleep, see the girls, go back to sleep. Easy enough. It'll be fun. Fun... yes.. must have fun.

I laid down, but could not sleep. I tossed and turned. My brain was going a hundred miles an hour. My heart was racing. What was happening? Why was I feeling so stressed out?

The girls arrived and brought in the groceries. Mudslides were poured and the cooking began. Tonight we would feast on a chicken pot pie as we drank and watched a movie. A quiet night. The perfect way to end semester.

My phone was ringing. Where is it? A frantic search began.

"Who is it Jos?"

"I dunno... I think it's a Minneapolis number. I'll let it go to voicemail. I've been getting a lot of prank calls from this area code lately. Someone must have had this cell phone number before me or something. Weird."

Why wont this thing stop ringing? Goodness, shouldn't voicemail have picked it up by now? Maybe I should pick it up. Josie... pick up the phone. HEY.. HEY DINGLEHEAD.. PICK UP YOUR PHONE!!!


"Hi, is this Josie Salzman?"

"Josie, this is 1SG.."

Fuck. Fuck, fuck fuck. This is not good. Don't say it. Don't say anything else. Just tell me hi and have a normal conversation with me.... please.

"...Spc Salzman is ok, but there's been an accident."

He's ok.

"His truck hit an IED."


"He's lost his right hand."

Wait.. what? What did he just say?? Moments pass. SAY SOMETHING!!!

"I don't understand. What do mean he lost his hand. Like... it's completely gone?"

"Yes. It's gone."

"I don't understand. Just his hand? How far up is it?"

"From what I know it's at the wrist. He's stable. He's going to be OK."

"Is there anything else wrong?"

"There were a few minor cuts on his left arm and a few scrapes on his legs."

"Where is he? Does he know what's happened? He's allergic to morphine. Is he in pain?"

"He's been medevaced to the green zone. The doctors are taking care of him there."

Josie stop... slow down. Think. He wasn't the only one in the vehicle. The other men. Are the other men ok?

"What about the other guys. Are they ok?"

"They're fine. J.R. was hurt the worst."

Deep breaths. He's going to be ok. Calm down. CALM DOWN. Think. What do you need to know?

"What happens now? What's going on? When do I get to talk to him? When will he be home?"

"The military will be in contact with you. This is all the information I have for now. I'm sorry I don't know more."

"It's ok. It's fine. Umm... thanks for the phone call."

Shit. Gotta tell Mom. No, gotta call work. No, gotta tell Tina. His parents. Shit. Breathe. No... No do not cry. You cannot cry. Crying is not going to help you right now.

The tears came anyway. I walked back into the kitchen. Cheri and Angie knew something was wrong and I could see the looks of concern on their faces.

"J.R. lost his hand. I don't know what's going on. I don't know what to do. I have to go to Hayward. I'm leaving.. I'm leaving now. Where are my shoes?"

"Jos, are you sure you can drive? One of us will take you."

"No, no I have to do this myself. I can't tell his parents this over the phone. I have to go. You guys stay here. Cook, watch a movie, do whatever. Just um... do the dishes and turn the lights off on your way out."

"Jos, are you sure?

"Yeah... I'll be ok."

I put my shoes on and then made a few quick phone calls. First was work. They had to know that I wouldn't be in in the morning. Next, my parents. I called home, no answer. I called the office, no answer. I tried over and over and over yet no answer ever came. I started to panic.

Call Beth. Shit.. no answer. Becca... Becca will be able to find them. No answer. Becca's parents... no answer. Stop breathing so hard. Come on.. calm down. You'll find them. Just calm down. Call Paul... he'll stay calm.


"Jo? What's going on??"

The tears had started.

"J.R. has been hurt. He's lost his hand. I can't find Mom and Dad. You gotta go find em. I don't know where they are."

"Jo, calm down. Take a deep breath. I'll go find them."

With that I jumped in the car and left for Hayward. Constantly dialing the phone. It was dark and my eyes were blurred with tears.

"Tina? Tina... J.R. is ok, but hes been in an accident. He's lost his right arm."

Phone calls that I wish I could forgot, but can't. Voices that are forever burned into my mind. I continued to call for as long as I had service. I was almost to his parents.

What are you going to say to them? What if they're not home? It's almost nine at night.. they have to be home. How do I phrase this? I can't believe I have to tell them this. Why me? Why can't someone else do this? How do you tell someones parents that their son lost his hand? Oh my God he lost his hand. What's it going to be like when I hug him? I don't know if I can do this. What if he doesn't know what's happened to him? What if he's in pain? Please don't be in pain. He's probably scared. Ugh.. why can't I be there now?

I pulled into the driveway. I wiped the tears from my eyes, took a deep breath, and ran to the door. It was unlocked. The door is never unlocked. I walked in. As his mom walked into the living room I blurted out as fast as I could what had happened. It took a minute to process. I sat down and began repeating the story over and over. I was getting confused. I couldn't remember the phone call anymore. I couldn't answer the questions as they were the same questions I was waiting to have answered.

Half an hour passed. Having no cell phone service I returned to my car and drove home. The Army would be trying to call soon. The information would start to come my way. I arrived home to my empty apartment.

What do I do now? It's quiet. Ring.. ring God damn it. Somebody call me. Tell me what's going on. He's lost his right hand. I'm not going to get to hold his hand anymore. I love that hand. He's not going to be able to play his video games. He loves his xbox. How is he going to write? What if he's scared?

My phone rang. It was my Mom.

"Jo, we're coming up tomorrow. We'll be there in the afternoon."

"No, Mom. I'm fine. Really. It's not going to do any good to have you here. I'm just waiting for them to fly me to J.R. You're not going to make the phone ring any faster if you're here. Just stay home."

"No, we're coming."

"Well... If you have to come... bring Becca."

The following days were sleepless. Information was slow to come. Days felt like years and a week felt like an eternity. The stress of the last two weeks was finally clear. Somewhere deep inside of me I knew. I knew that he was in danger. I knew something was wrong. It was the reason why I could not let go at the airport when we said goodbye two weeks prior. It was the reason for the panic attacks and my inability to focus.

Somehow, I survived the week and made it to D.C. I had no idea what lay ahead of us. I didn't care. I had my husband and that was all that mattered.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Battle in the Mind

The sun has gone down and another beautiful day in Wisconsin is over. In a few hours I will be wrapping up my night and heading to bed. For the whole night I will toss and turn. I will constantly wake up to see if J.R. has crawled into bed. I will walk into the living room to check on him. I will watch him stare at his computer or the tv screen all night. Desperate for sleep but unable to shut off his mind. Around nine am I will wake for the day. J.R. will crawl into bed and sleep will finally ease his mind. He wont wake up until three or four in the afternoon.

So goes life at the Salzman house. A constant battle in the mind. A never ending movie that repeats over and over, unable to be paused. I wish I could take away the memories, somehow make them less painful. I can't. All I can do is be ready to listen when he wants to talk. I thought coming home would be wonderful. In many ways this has been the hardest part of the whole ordeal.

Today is his official retirement day from the Army. He hasn't said much about it. I made a nice dinner and a couple of my girlfriends came to celebrate. It was, as is everything in life right now, very bittersweet. The men will be missed. One weekend a month, two weeks a year will become part of our past and the constant worry of deployments will be off our minds. That is priceless.