When I graduated from college and embarked on my great adventure in "the real world," I made a promise to myself: I would never let work trump family.
The CDR's decision this weekend directly contradicts my philosophy, and I'm struggling to accept it. He decided to stay on board his ship, and now he will miss his grandmother's burial. GiGi died yesterday afternoon after a long, rich, beautiful life.
When we first discussed the pros and cons of this decision, I encouraged my husband to avoid the temptation to use GiGi's rapidly declining health as a subconscious excuse to get off a ship he doesn't much enjoy and see his family, whom he very much misses. My encouragement backfired, as the advice he apparently heard come out of my mouth was, "Pretend like you're still single and make the decision that way."
I should have known that even with the newfangled invention of a shipboard satellite phone working to my advantage, we might plow full-steam into the classic male-female language barrier. The CDR's decision to stay aboard his ship, quite frankly, shocked me senseless. I fully expected that he would get off in Barrow and fly home as quickly as possible to grieve with his family.
And, more selfishly, help me shepherd our children through their first experience of losing a loved one. For the past 48 hours, I have been running myself ragged to make travel plans, process loads of laundry, clean up the house, create a packing list, and find a place to kennel our dog in anticipation of our trip to Oregon for the burial service later this week. On top of all that, I've been fielding question after question of eternal magnitude from my almost-three-year-old. If I wasn't tired before, I am now exhausted to the point of emotional and physical breakdown.
On the other hand, I recognize that the CDR's work is not just a job. He is an officer in the United States Coast Guard, and with that comes a level of loyalty and obligation that I will never understand, because I have never been there. Ultimately, I have to trust that the CDR made the right decision for him, and I just have to suck it up and deal.
But you know what? I sucked it up and dealt with it when he got this job we didn't want. I'm done with sucking it up. I'm ready to throw my anger back in the CDR's face. But what kind, loving person throws selfish, bitter anger at their bereaved spouse? Not me. I can't do that to him.
So instead I sit here, pounding the keys in frustration and praying the bitterness away. It's the only thing I can motivate myself to do right now, even though there is a Mount Rainier-sized pile of other stuff waiting for me to pull myself together.