Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Infamous 8 Hour Pass

I am still reeling from the emotional roller coaster that was the infamous 8 hour pass.

A blissful moment to break up the monotony of missing my to-be Ranger, a happy re-union between phases, an opportunity for me to shower him with love and nourishment and for him to catch up on some much needed rest...

I woke up at 3 in the morning a FULL WEEK before the pass panicking that I only have one opportunity to re-fuel my other half, to give him enough energy to make it through the next 40 days, to relay all the wisdom I can find on what he should focus on to get a Go through mountains and swamp phase... and not show him just how much I've been missing him.  It was more stressful than finals!  Also, I read up enough not to be shocked that he had so much to get done on his pass that he had could afford very little time to sleep.

So I approached it as a pit-stop.  A very quick opportunity to replace all the tires, tighten the bolts (or whatever they actually do at a pit-stop) and give him the momentum to get through as a first-time go, God-willing.  I knew his priorities would be food, sleep, shower, sleep, food, reassurance, love, in that order, somewhat reminiscent of Maslow's hierarchy of needs!

It was sooo wonderful to meet some of the other wives/fiances/girlfriends the morning we picked them up and relay our crazy stories of preparation, anxiety, and excitement.  There's so much we can learn from each other, so I'll share our experience for whatever it's worth!

His particular class was released just after 9am.  I got there at 8:30 (didn't want food to get cold) but many wives had been there since 8 or before.  Oh, and there=the parking lot that you have to turn at the Ranger sign to get to, where many dropped their guys off at.  (Anyone have better directions?)

1. Food! 
I expected him to be SO HUNGRY. Which he was, but over 3 weeks of semi-starvation he got full very quickly.  A lot of the guys sent food wish-lists in their letters (how nice!) but I got to guess.  As much as I wanted to make all of his favorite foods (enough to feed an army!) I tried to balance out the sweets/delicious foods (red velvet donuts, fried chicken, barbecue chips...) with stuff that would sneakily boost his immune system and "stick to the ribs" (thanks for all the advice Courtney!) like whole wheat banana nutella bread, french spinach, oranges, and Emergen-C drinks.

I was concerned about the foods he craved being a shock to his body after 3 weeks of MRE's, and since some of the guys seemed to get a bit sick by the end of the pass, this is something to keep in mind!  I'm seriously hoping the probiotics and vitamin C I semi-force-fed him will help counteract that...

We went straight to Commando's as soon as I picked him up to make sure we wouldn't run out of time later.  It was so hard to see him fade in and out of focus trying to stay awake and remember what he needed!  I heard he might need to re-stock 550 cord, a fleece watch cap, gum, t-shirts, socks and whatnot. He also needed foot powder, a new headlamp, and an extra bite valve for his camelback.  It would have been so nice to have some idea what things they usually run out of so he wouldn't have to guess!  Anyone have suggestions for the guys going through next month?

3. Laundry
This might seem really obvious, but I've seriously googled it before.  Cleaning infamous red Georgia clay out of ACU's is ridiculous.  Fortunately, stains don't matter in Ranger School like they do in IBOLC.   But his laundry REEKED of a bizarre potent chemical smell he casually explained as decaying muscle.  My best solution so far is two cycles on hot with laundry soap, OxiClean and a few cups of Borax.  Start early.

4. Haircut
Do you have any idea how hard it is to shave a man's head when he's literally nodding off?  It's a funny balancing act of holding his head with one hand and shaving it with the other.  Just don't forget a haircut!

5. TLC
Yay! The happy un-stressful part of our precious time together!  And something I finally did Not need to read up on.

5. Sleeeeep. 
He sweetly insisted from the moment I picked him up that he didn't need sleep, he'd rather spend time with me.  Aww...but in the same breath of saying this at least four times he nodded off and started snoring. Cute.  He was rather upset when I was finally able to wake him up 3 hours later, but let's face it, if I couldn't wake him up 4 times, he needed the sleep!

In fact, on the way back to Ranger School (after naps!) he and B and I were having a conversation in the car... a lively conversation...and suddenly I looked around and they were both passed out sitting up. God bless.  I cannot imagine.

My awesome dad-in-law sent me an article not too long ago (i'll find it again eventually) about the power we have in sending our guys off rather than the natural inclination of "please don't leave me!!"
Instead of leaving them guilty or sad about going it's an opportunity to strengthen them, validate their journey, and, in a way, send them off with all our strength.

As simple as this concept might be, to someone as new to the military as I am, I've had to cling to the idea of using my role as his help-mate and other half to send him off to succeed!

Sorry this post ended up as a short novel!  I've learned SO much in the past few weeks, I just hope this is useful if your guy's pass is coming up, and if you just went through this too please share your experience and tips!


Carolyn Tatum said...

I love this entire post. It made me smile and I agreed with all of it.

Esp the last part--- it takes guts to "send them off" instead of bawling that they are leaving.

Courtney S said...

LOVE that last part. It's so true!!! Too easy to beg B not to hang up with me (what? no! I totally did not do that...). But, eventually, you just gotta look them in the eye and say "kick ass, take names, and don't ever stop."

Smart woman force-feeding him probiotics and Vitamin C! Totally did not think of that. I sent B. a bunch of fruit snacks, made from real fruit, at 1 serving a pop. He told me he ate all of them (yeah, that's like friggin' 25 servings of fruit).... Apparently fruit was discouraged because... well... Fiber cleans out the digestive track. Ain't that appealing...?

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