Extension

Such a sad, sad word.

Today as Clay’s unit prepared to enter into their 12th month of deployment and members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team arrived home at Fort Drum, New York, the Army announced that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division will have at least a 4 month extension on their 12 month deployment to Afghanistan.

While watching 90210 (yes, 90210…it is on the SOAP network…I can’t help it….it is a vice) yesterday evening, I worked diligently cutting the letters to spell WELCOME HOME CLAY for my flag/banner I was making to display when he was to arrive home the second week of February (pictured above…a work in progress). The ‘Things To Do Before Clay Arrives’ list is about 75% finished and I have started to grocery shop for his favorites so I can have the shelves stocked when he arrives. I have imagined our homecoming countless times while daydreaming and drifting off to sleep at night. Homecoming seemed so close…5% to go, a figure that seemed within reach and do-able.

Clay will not return home in February.

This afternoon I received a phone call from my friend Fran who broke the news of the extension. An hour later Clay called as I was driving towards Fort Drum to attend the briefing about the extension. He told me to pull over because he had something to tell me not knowing that I already knew. Between the tears I told him (while trying to convince myself) that everything will be okay and just how much I love and miss him.

The situation is very similar to what the Stryker Brigade experienced back in the fall while deployed to Iraq so I keep telling myself that we are neither the only ones nor the first to go through this wretched experience known as extension. As broken as I feel, I can’t even imagine how the soldiers are absorbing the news. It has not been a secret that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team has had a rough time battling the insurgents in Afghanistan with many US casualties and many more wounded. The men and women that have arrived home or are en route to the United States will have to run around and deploy back to Afghanistan.

Sigh.

Words can’t even begin to describe just how upset and angry I am at the fact that Clay is not coming home and that I have another four months of worrying ahead of me, I am also upset because I see no hope. I don’t have the answer to Iraq or Afghanistan but things are not working. How did this all happen? Are American, Iraqi, and Afghani lives worth it? Again, when will enough be enough? I am really trying to remain positive. In the grand scheme of things, the news could have been a lot worse. It is just starting to become difficult to accept the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hopefully this pit in my stomach starts to shrink or it will be a long four months.

* Originally posted at The Sour Patch Kid Experiment (deleted 2007) on January 26, 2007.