Jeanne Nindl, 34, and her three children had become accustomed to their husband and father being away for weeks at a time, off on business trips or training sessions as a research scientist with Natick Labs and as an Army reservist. But now that Brad Nindl has been deployed to Mosul, Iraq, with the 1-304 Army reserve unit in Londonderry, N.H., weeks apart have grown into months.
The pain of separation has become anything but routine.
Jeanne Nindl and her children piled in front of their television last night as President Bush appealed for American support in the war in Iraq. The speech generated a range of emotions for Nindl: She was happy to know that her husband is contributing to democracy, but sad to remember the sacrifices she and Ashley, 11, Lyndsey, 7, and Zachary, 2 have made.
''It's hard to say that the terrorists in Iraq are the ones involved in Sept. 11," said Nindl of Rutland said. ''I don't have the intelligence, but I have to respect the president. To not respect him would be to not respect, in some sense, the reasons why our husbands are over there."
Brad Nindl was home earlier this month for 15 days of rest and relaxation. And Jeanne Nindl knows there's no assurance her husband will return for good in October as planned. Each time he returns and leaves again, the loneliness intensifies, she said.
''When he was here, it was like he was never gone," said Ashley. ''But then, when he had to go again, it was worse than the first time."
Technology has helped the family get though the pain. Jeanne Nindl, a stay-at-home mom, chats with her husband through
''As soon as you hear that Yahoo! you come running," said Nindl, who has her computer volume set highest so she never misses when her husband logs on.
But Major Nindl often can't chat long. Sometimes, he's on line for two minutes. If he's lucky, he's around for as long as an hour.
''The saddest part is when you miss him," Nindl said. ''But the greatest part is when I get an IM message from him and I wasn't there. I know he was OK for that minute."
The Nindls take comfort in knowing that no one from the Londonderry unit has died in the war, although one person from another unit died minutes after dining with Brad Nindl.
The community has come together for the Nindl family, decorating their lawn with American flags, taking Jeanne and Brad Nindl on a free limousine ride from the airport. Through them, Jeanne Nindl says she has learned what the words ''support your troops" really means.