The Phone Call

The Phone Call

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

The Phone Call

Tact is, after all, a kind of mind reading.

Sarah Orne Jewett

“Is this Mrs. Smith?” An unidentified male voice was on the phone. I cautiously responded. Was this the phone call I had been dreading since March? For a moment, I thought I was going to be sick. Then the loveliest words I have ever heard came through the receiver: “Smith, your wife’s on the phone.”

At 5:20 A.M., on April 18, my heart leapt to my throat. I had not heard my husband’s voice since February 16. For a moment, I wondered if he would sound the same. I wondered if I remembered his voice at all.

The news channel I am now addicted to had not reported anything from his brigade in a week. Immediately, what seemed to be a thousand questions flew through my head. Where are you? How are you? Have you been able to shower? Are you eating? Do you miss me? Why has it taken you so long to call?

Intellectually speaking, I knew why he had not called. Jay was in a war zone. However, this fact had not prevented me from embarking upon the longest one-sided argument I have ever had. For weeks, I had been silently begging my husband to befriend a reporter in order to use his or her satellite phone. I realize this may sound ridiculous. But really! How dare he be concentrating on his job instead of his wife!

With that first hello, however, my irritation turned to uncertainty. I wondered if he was still the same man I fell in love with. Had this experience changed him? Had the past month hardened him? Would details from the home front seem anything but trivial to him now that he had been through a war?

I kept my questions to myself. All I wanted him to know was that I was doing well. The army operates on a need-to-know basis, so I quickly decided that we would, too. As long as he was in the desert, Jay did not need to know that termites have been discovered at our house, or that I had two flat tires in the last month or that the refrigerator broke. He did not need to know that his pay had been incorrect for four months or that I have been scared out of my mind.

For twenty glorious minutes I listened to his stories of Baghdad. He tried to protect my feelings, too, and his tales were not horrific war stories but amazing adventures that he had or sights he has seen. He told me of Saddam’s bombed-out palace. We laughed at stories of Udday’s palace with lions and wealth galore. He even told me about a single lieutenant he would like to introduce to my sister.

Any awkwardness that I had feared, dissolved. I was overwhelmed with pride; I was so lucky, and my husband was so brave. Military spouses share their lives with fascinating, dedicated individuals. So listening to Jay’s firsthand account of the war was truly precious.

The phone line cut out before we were able to say how much we missed each other. I held the phone in my hand for several moments, hoping to hear his voice again. The familiar pain of missing him returned. I waited two months for that wonderful phone call. Now, the waiting starts again.

Jodie Smith

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