MONMOUTH — Every day there’s at least one picture. Often it represents something that happened that day, like the dog with a snout full of porcupine quills, or it may be a random shot of one of the kids doing something funny.

Two months into her husband’s deployment to Afghanistan with the Maine Army National Guard, Lynn Lewis is as determined as ever to make sure he feels as much a part of the family as is possible for a man 7,000 miles away.

“We try to keep him as involved as possible without making him worry more,” she said.

Scott Lewis, a major in the Maine Army National Guard who has spent most of the past 14 years with the 133rd Engineer Battalion, left Monmouth in August for training in Mississippi and arrived in Afghanistan at the end of September. Lewis, 45, is overseeing hundreds of men and women as they close military sites or retrofit them for use by the Afghans. He likely will not return until next summer.

“I don’t think he’s had a day off since Sept. 4,” Lynn said. “They work 12, 14, 16-hour days.”

This is the second deployment for Lewis — he spent a year in Iraq in 2004–05. He’s left behind Lynn and his two children, 16-year-old Kimberlee and 6-year-old Nathan.

The family is well into settling into a routine that includes using Skype so they can talk to and see Scott over the computer every day or so and daily emails.

“It’s not perfect but I have no business complaining because I get to see him,” Lynn said.

Kimberlee is rehearsing for the part of Dorothy in the Monmouth Community Theater production of “The Wizard of Oz” at the end of the month. That’s on top of a hefty class schedule at Monmouth Academy that includes pre-calculus, anatomy and physiology, the math team and yearbook committee.

“Pre-cal is a little rough,” she said. “I do have two study halls so I’m luckier than some of my friends.”

Nathan, meanwhile, is settling into first grade at the Henry L. Cottrell School, where recess remains his favorite activity. He plays soccer and is a Cub Scout. He’s already earned a couple merit badges.

Even as they carry on in their busy lives, however, Scott is never far away. Sometimes it’s harder than others, like a recent trip to the Fryeburg Fair, which has always been one of his favorites.

“That was tough,” Lynn said. “It’s a family thing.”

“It’s the same with a lot of things,” Kimberlee said. “We deal with it.”

The time zone where Scott is stationed is eight and a half hours ahead of Maine. The family has set a clock in the kitchen to “Scott time.” Lynn said she likes to look at it and try to think about what her husband of 19 years might be doing at that moment.

“All day long I find myself looking at my watch,” she said.

More than anything, what he is doing is working. Scott went over early to prepare for the arrival of the rest of the unit, which has just arrived in Afghanistan. There has been no time to develop a routine.

“People are getting acclimated,” Lynn said. “I think when everyone is up to speed and they’re working as a unit and team I think it will be a lot better.”

Scott’s room does not afford him as much privacy as his accommodations in Iraq. There have been times when he will settle into a bunker to Skype his family. Scott has said the food is good and there is plenty of it.

“It could be worse,” Lynn said. “It could always be worse.”

She thinks about what wives must have endured in previous wars, when there was limited communication.

“I’m spoiled rotten compared to them,” Lynn said.

Lynn often thinks about what the men and women working with her husband have to endure beyond being away from their families. It is easy to take our conveniences for granted, she said.

Lynn pauses to reflect on what has been most difficult about Scott’s absence so far.

“The selfish answer is I miss him,” she said. “The other answer is seeing him having to deal with the things he has to deal with. I’ve got it good. I have my home. I have my kids. I have the support of my family, friends and neighbors. They’re the ones that have it tough. We’re doing OK.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
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