POTL - Pre Operational Tour Leave
H had two weeks off prior to his deployment. I was excited about being able to spend the time with him before his travels, but also slightly anxious about getting used to him being there before he gets swept away! Two weeks doesn't sound long enough to get used to someone, but going from weekend only visits to a full two weeks was like a luxury pampered holiday when you don't want to go home (back to reality).
As I knew H would want to see his friends from home and family members I only booked one week off work, the first week which was a mistake!! We spent the first week visiting and had one lazy day at home with the children watching DVDs and eating sweets!
We didn't concentrate enough on us! Only one day did we spend the day together, and that was a good day, a VERY good day. We woke up a Saturday morning, and dropped the children to my mothers. We went back home to get ready, we both slipped into our red tops... It was Grand Slam day. Once we were all ready we held hands and headed for the train station! There were about 8 people at the station, mainly dressed in red! As the train pulled up, you could see that it was full with colours of red and blue! We stepped (I jumped, I'm only short!) onto the train, our carriage was over powered with blue shirts and berets. "I think we're on the wrong carriage!" I said. H looked at me and smirked. He gripped my hand tightly and we walked through the blue sea into the "red" carriage! Thankfully rugby was not represented by such hooligans as football, and it definitely was not a problem that we'd been mixed in with the blues to begin with!
Once we were in Cardiff you could tell that the Capitol was rammed with supporters! Rivers of red and blue streamed the high street! This was my first rugby experience in Cardiff and I looked at H and my heart skipped with excitement!
We found a pub and a spot to stand, we were clearly too late to get a seat!! The rugby did not start for 2-3 hours, yet every where was pumping! It was amazing! I loved looking around at all the happy people, and looking at my H. This (I knew) was going to be an amazing memory, whether we won the Grand Slam or not!
When the rugby started a woman called me up to sit on a ledge with her in the pub. H was fine with that as my feet were killing me, blinking heels! So I hopped up onto the ledge and watched intensely, screaming at the appropriate times and turning around for H to give me the odd wink, which made my heart skip a beat more times than Halfpenny scoring a try!
The game was coming to an end and we had done it! We had won the Grand Slam against France! Everyone was screaming, everyone was hugging! I turned around, I could not get to him, I could not reach H! I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience, and that I knew this was a memory archived for me to refer to when H was deployed, my eyes filled with tears of joy and sorrow all at the same time! I turned to look at H, my phone buzzed, I looked down "I love you xxxx". I whipped my head around, he gave me his heart melting smile, winked and blew me a kiss, mouthing the words I love you! My smile beamed from ear to ear. If only I could get to him. The woman I was sat with bounced off the ledge, and I quickly followed, grabbed hold of H and gave him a huge kiss!
The pub announced that they had run out of beer, so it was time for us to leave. We headed back to the train station and decided that we would go to the village pub before heading home!
I knew that once he had deployed to Afghanistan that all I would have to do is think of that moment when I turned to see him after winning the Grand Slam, and I would smile!
After a week with H, and knowing that he only had one week left before he deployed, I cried at the thought of having to go to work! I was petrified that if anything was to happen to him in Afghanistan that I would regret being in work that week for the rest of my life. I spoke to my boss, she understood and let me take the second week off too! I'm very blessed and lucky to have such a lovely boss!
Once again we did not stop the second week! So many people to see, so many things to do! We had decided that we were going to take the children to Lego Land, and had decided on the Thursday. This was not a problem, and I told J's school that we would be taking him out of school for the day like we had the week before. They understood. Unfortunately someone did not. J's dad sent me messages that only a child would think of saying, they were that ridiculous. I tried explaining to him that H is going away for six months and J would not see his step dad during this time, and missing one day of school to spend the day with H was not out of order. As horrible as it sounds I wanted to say "For all we know this could be the last time J sees H if the worst was to happen!". What went through J's fathers head no one knows but his response was untterly ridiculous - "So if it all kicks off in the Falklands and we all get called up like in the World War, I get to take J out of school whenever I want is it?". My response to this was "Shut up" I could not believe what I had just read!
Needless to say, we took J out of school to spend the last day of leave with H and as a family, as I was to drop H to camp the following day! And we had an absolutely fantastic day! J and H became best friends, running off to go on the biggest roller coaster together! And H went on the kids roller coaster with T also so not to leave him out. It was a much needed family day before H left! And to see the little Lego guards Trooping The Colour in Lego London brought a tear to my eye!
We were driving home up the m4, and I realised POTL had come to an end and it was almost time to say Goodbye!
On the Friday we drove back down the m4, and I looked out the window most of the time with silent tears falling down my cheeks, I think I hid this well from H, and I don't think he noticed. Well I hope he didn't. I felt silly, weak!
I stayed with H that night and I would drive home on the Saturday. It was easy to push away the following days promise (to take my H away) whilst we sat in a friends Hot Tub, eating BBQ. Another lovely memory.
I woke up Saturday morning thinking that what was happening couldn't be happening! I wasn't ready! I tried to be happy to not ruin our last few hours, but I struggled! What was I doing? Just smile and snap out of it I kept telling myself! Then it was too late. I sat on his bed as all the boys, and H filled the car with H's room!
The car was full, I had to leave! The bed sucked me in. H walked into the room and looked at me. The bed released me and I jumped up at speed and grabbed him so tight. I tried holding it together but I lost it. I sobbed into his chest. He held me just as tight.
How could I let this moment go? I could feel his breath on my neck, it gave me goosebumps! My body shakes as I tried to pull away.
I held his hand tightly as he walked me to the car. I sucked it up, and held my head high, all teared out I thought! I will not cry again I tried to promise myself. He sat in the car as I drove to the barracks gate to leave. There they were, the gates, the gates that lead me to a lonely six months! He jumped out of the car quickly, and ran around to my side! I opened my door but did not get out! He spoke loving words to me and words of encouragement as he bent down and held me. I wish I could remember those words but it's all a blur. I was crying again! His glazed over green eyes looked into my teary blue ones! He looked close to tears. I told him to stay safe and not forget me!
He closed my door, my window was open. He leaned in and kissed my lips. It was time for me to drive away.
I did not look in my mirror, I did not want to know if he stood there and watched me or if he turned and walked away straight away. The soldier on stag gave me a sympathetic smile and nod. I smiled back. I turned out of the barracks and my eyes filled. I could not see through the tears. I had to pull over and pull myself together.
I drove the wrong way twice! And both times I ended up driving passed the barracks again! My brain wanted me to run back in for just one more kiss, but I could not bear saying goodbye again! I found my way and turned the radio up loud! I sang (sometimes through tears) all the way home!
This was going to be a long few months. Next is my RnR tease!
Words cannot describe the loneliness as I eat my tea without a text coming through, or laying in bed without his goodnight call.
My first contact should ease my anxiety a bit. Until then I shall continue crying into my food, and laying in bed cwtching his pillow!
Stay safe soldier... All my love!