They walk away, they have to. The time has come for them to leave.
To deploy. To head overseas. To do what they have trained to do.
We stay behind, we know we have to. We have to stay strong, even if that is hard. We have to be the ones at home, holding everything together.
You second guess in moments like these. Should he have really joined the military? Should I have really married into this?
As you stand at the start of one long deployment, you wonder how you even got there…
Time goes by, and the days pass. Cross one off, then another. One week at a time.
You hold it together. You have to. For the kids. For yourself. For them.
You talk every other day, sometimes every day, sometimes you have to go longer.
You remind yourself that things are much better now. You remind yourself having a spouse off at war used to mean just letters, now you have so much more. But even that reminder doesn’t make them seem closer.
As you start off that one long deployment, you find yourself in a weird place, and wonder if anyone else can understand.
Can they understand the deployment ache? The feeling that something is missing, even if you are having a good day? Do they understand how that feels?
Can they understand the sadness that can come, knowing this is your life, knowing there will be more deployments?
Can they understand how yes, you did choose this, but no, you really had no idea what military life would be like? That you really didn’t know how your emotions would play out?
As you get through that one long deployment, you wonder if there is anyone else you can connect with, anyone else who is going through the same thing?
You go to the FRG, you go to the local playgroups, you join a book club. At first you are not so sure. Can these other spouses relate? And then you find that yes, some of them can.
You make plans, you are going to help each other through. You find your people. Others who get deployments. Others who can truly understand.
You find yourself in a place of almost contentment. Yes, your spouse is gone. Yes, they are deployed, but you are finding your way.
This one long deployment is halfway over, and you feel as though you have gone through so many different phases since they left. You were heartbroken, you were sad, and now you have found a place of peace, but can you stay that way?
As time moves on, you feel the up and down of the deployment. The good days, the bad days. The hard days, the easier ones.
You have worries. Will they get extended like they did last time? Will they happen to come home early? Will they be changed when they do come home?
Staying busy is key, you know this, but some days, you don’t want to do anything. You want to take a day off. Take a day off of a deployment? That’s not even possible.
As you round each corner, you think about how much this one long deployment has taught you. How much you have learned. How you have grown.
You are more independent now. You have figured out how to be, because it was the only way.
You have more strength than you did before. What seemed impossible is now possible. And you hope some of that is rubbing off on your kids.
You look towards the finish line and wonder what homecoming will really be like. Is homecoming like the videos you have seen on the news? Is it as happy as they want you to think it is? What if there is more below the surface?
And then you find yourself at the end of this one long deployment. You have less than a month, then less than a week and time stands still. The calendar doesn’t want to move.
And you feel ready, so ready for this deployment chapter to be over in your life. You are so ready for normal again. To be a full family.
You know that you have both changed. You knew that going in. And you hope and pray the first few days, weeks, and months together can be a time of healing.
You get together with your friends. You make homecoming signs. You share your after deployment plans.
And then the day comes, the one you have been waiting for, this one long deployment is finally over. You have your homecoming outfit, that’s ready, but are you? You are full of emotions and as nervous as you were before your first date.
You get the kids ready, and head in your car. You can’t eat, you can’t do much of anything but focus on the task ahead. You park the car and head to the gym to wait.
And you wait…as if you haven’t done enough waiting but this time the waiting is different. This time you are waiting just a short amount of time, maybe a few hours. You made it through months apart, you can handle a few hours.
You are thankful your friends are surrounding you, even if some of their spouses already made it home. Being in the last group is difficult, but you did it and now you are here.
As you sit and wait, you think about this one long deployment and everything you have been through. You think about your highs and lows. You think about the good and the bad.
And then it is time. It is time. It is time. It is time.
Everyone stands up, with smiles on their faces. The doors open and it is time!
You look for them, in the sea of green. You find them, so serious, still in soldier mode.
They see you, you know they do but they can’t react, not yet. And you wait and then you don’t have to anymore. And then they are in your arms again. And you did it…
You survived this one long deployment. You made it to the finish line. You found a way through and got to the other side.