Ships Passing in the Night

Living within the constraints of a Long Distance Relationship can fray the most tethered of nerves. We are on constant “stand-by” for that phone call, Skype date, or possible letter or package to arrive. During deployments when she was on a ship, I didn’t even go to the bathroom without my phone. The gravest of regrets is missing a call that might be the only 8 minutes I talk to her that day.

I learned long ago to quit holding my breath for a “normal” calling schedule. A 3 hour time zone difference could be slightly annoying, but it was merely to temper us for the 17 hour time difference that has become our “normal” the past 5 months. We don’t know if it’s Day or Night much less if it’s Friday or Saturday. Our typical conversations sound like we communicate in a vacuum of space, garbled by 3 marbles, 5 pennies, a handful of Legos, and a hairball the size of a small hamster.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Honey!”

“Yeah, that was yesterday, thanks for noticing”

“I thought it was your tomorrow. “

“It’s a Leap Year. Look on the calendar”

“Is it still 2012 where you are?”

And on it goes.  I stopped keeping track of time and potential “date nights” a while ago. I used to write them in colorful magic markers with cute hearts and stickers on the calendar in the bedroom. Lately, I have taken to randomly setting alarms on my phone when a potential opportunity may arise. When the alarm goes off, if NO date has occurred, I assume I am supposed to take the laundry out of the dryer or make an appointment for the dentist.

After the Daylight Savings Time rolled around, to honor the farmers who are too busy playing Farmville to notice the sun has come up, we were now 1 more hour apart. Apparently other countries and areas have realized that gaining another hour, usually means one more hour they can hurry up to sit in traffic with everyone else and that it might be better served in bed.

To her credit, my partner makes every effort to call me 2-3 times a day. We try to fit in sentimentality’s where ever we can; usually on the highway, by way of Speaker-phone, shuttling one of the kids to school or back from another appointment.

“I sure love you.”

“I love you too…. Hold on a sec honey. Hannah, quit throwing your peanut butter out the


window! That goes on your waffle and it’s all you are getting for breakfast!”

“I can’t wait to live with you too….. oh shit. Hold on darlin’…….. Yes, can I get a number 4 combo meal with fries and bbq sauce and a root beer.  Ok babe, I’m back. I look forward to spending the rest of our lives….. What????? $7.83? Ok. Yes. BBQ. No, not Ranch. “

Somehow, between her day and my night, my dusk and her dawn, we manage. It’s a lesson in patience and living with uncertainty that you couldn’t learn in a 1000 years of monastic living. It’s living within expectations made of rub

ber or silk thread, allowing room to stretch and grow, or to tether and wrap around the bedpost for safe keeping and another day.

In between the Ships passing in the night are those rare moments of connection; rising and falling between laughter and sorrow, shared jokes and confessions of loneliness, bobbing along and bubbling to the surface with hope and perseverance for another day.


  1. Love this and look forward to reading more. But these should come with warnings, like: don’t read while swilling a Coke or chewing a taco! It’s hard to clean up those messes, after all!

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