While her husband is on duty in Iraq, Becky Herz is home caring for their baby daughter. She is able to tend to her day-to-day responsibilities because she believes her husband will call her tomorrow.
I believe that my husband will call me tomorrow.
Tonight I’ll say, “Have a great day,” and “I love you” to my husband, who is 11 time zones away in Iraq. Then I’ll hang up the phone. I’ll fall asleep as I did last night, next to our baby daughter. We’ll sleep in the guest bedroom downstairs — it’s less lonely to sleep there for now.
First, I’ll pet and talk to our dogs. I weaned them from sleeping with me a few months ago, but they still seem a bit disappointed when I go off to bed without them. I’ll promise them a long walk tomorrow, and I’ll make good.
In bed, I’ll lay my hand on our daughter’s chest several times before I fall asleep, just to make sure that she is breathing. I’ll curl up in two blankets: one from Guatemala, one from Peru. I’ll allow these souvenirs of past travels to warm the empty space in the bed. I’ll get up three times during the night to feed our baby. Each of those times I’ll tell her that she has a beautiful life to look forward to. I can say this because I believe that my husband will call me tomorrow.
In the morning after my cup of coffee, I’ll change diapers and move around loads of laundry. I’ll pour dog food, eat cereal, get dressed, and do the dishes — all with one hand, holding our baby in the other. I’ll do the shopping, pay the bills, and stop in at work to see how my employees are getting by. Every three hours I’ll stop what I’m doing to feed, change and play with our daughter. I’ll make good on the promised walk with our baby strapped to my chest and a dog-leash in each hand. When people say, “Looks like you have your hands full,” I’ll smile and acknowledge that it’s true, but I make the best of it because I believe that my husband will call me tomorrow.
If there is a letter addressed to me from the military, I’ll open it because I believe that my husband will call me tomorrow. If there is a knock at the door, I’ll answer it, because I believe that my husband will call me tomorrow.
And when he does, I’ll talk to him and tell him again that I love him. I’ll be able to hang up the phone, keeping my fear at bay, because I believe — I must believe — that my husband will call me tomorrow.
Becky Herz is a recreation supervisor for neighborhood parks in Sacramento, Calif. Her husband, David, serves in the Army National Guard and is on 14-month deployment to Iraq. Becky and their daughter, Sage, will not see David again until early summer.
Independently produced for NPR by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.
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