Saturday, October 16, 2004

My faithful readers might recall back in the summer when my friend Amy surprised me with a special gift to help me count down the days until Fred's return. It was a beautiful Polish pottery canister full of M&Ms, one for each day of the deployment. The idea was that I would eat one M&M per day, and as the jar got emptier, we would be that much closer to Fred's return.

Apparently there are people who can be trusted around chocolate. And then there's me.

I started off really well. In fact, I started off so well that it took me days to eat the first piece of candy. As I wrote back then,
I haven't actually started eating the M&Ms yet. I want to, but I know how my mind works: "Hmmm . . . after I finish all this chocolate, Fred will be home." It doesn't take a psychic to foresee me sitting there 15 minutes later, waiting for Fred to walk through the door and wondering why on earth my stomach hurts so bad.

Gradually though, I started dipping into the jar for an occasional treat. "I haven't had one in a few days," I would reason, "so surely this will keep me more or less caught up." Or, "This day has been exceptionally stressful and therefore equal to 2 days," and down would go 2. Or 3.

I wasn't even greedy about it. Sometimes, if it had been a while since I had reached into the jar, I would toss a few M&Ms at the kids, urging them to "have a bite of Dad." Perhaps they wondered if this was some bizarre military ritual of transubstantiation, but they never turned down the chocolate.

Somewhere along the way though, things got out of control. According to my jar, Fred should be home in 4 days. Make that 3. No, 2. Oh, screw it, 1.

Last Wednesday we hit the 21-week mark, and Tuesday will make it an official 5 months. If he were on a 1-year tour, we'd be within sniffing distance of the halfway point.

It occurred to me while we were with Fred in Charlottesville that Martha Stewart will be released from prison before he's released from Iraq. When I shared this thought with Fred though, he just smiled ruefully and said, "I've got clients who will be out of prison before I'm out of Iraq." Now THERE is a cheery thought, don't you think? Pass the M&Ms . . .

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