When you are married to a soldier, you know the time will come; you know that they will eventually deploy. If they haven’t yet, you know they will and while you might know this is all coming, hearing those words are never easy.
They come home from work one day, walk in the door, and by the look on their face, you know what they are going to say.
There have been rumors, the other military spouses talk. You knew a deployment might happen, but you hoped they wouldn’t leave until next year. When your kids were not as young, when you had less on your plate, when the timing seemed better.
But is there ever a good time for a deployment?
“I have some news,” he says. “What is it?” You say, now is not the time to beat around the bush.
“We are deploying.”
“Okay.” You are not sure how to respond. You are shocked. You are not shocked. You want more details, and so you ask for them. He tells you that it will probably be in June, next June, unless they send him early in May, or even April and there is a slight chance he won’t have to go until late July, even August.
Your brain tries to go to the next year. Wasn’t that when you were finally going to take the kids to Disneyworld? Guess that will have to wait. You also wanted to start school? Go back and finish your degree, but is a deployment the right time to do so? Maybe, maybe not.
“Okay,” you say, because you can’t say anything else, you are still trying to process everything.
You are still trying to figure out what you are going to do and how you are going to get to a place where you can handle this.
“It’s still four months away,” he says. And you know that. He isn’t leaving tomorrow. You still have plenty of time. But you also know that time will go by too fast, as it always does. That four months isn’t that long.
You are now in pre-deployment mode, even if the deployment doesn’t seem real. Your emotions change, you start to feel like you are more in survival mode than you were before. You worry more about the kids, calculating how old they will be when he leaves and when he is supposed to get home.
And then time passes. He starts to get his things together. Army stuff everywhere. You don’t want it in your living room, but that is where he has to pack.
And one day, his Army stuff is gone. And you know he will soon follow.
It’s now the week before the deployment. He is leaving. Earlier than you wanted, later than he first said. You were able to squeeze so many memories in the last few months, but were they enough? Are they ever enough? The kids know he is going; you don’t know how hard the deployment will be for them.
You pray for your spouse, for patience, for relief from the pain this deployment brings. You know you can get through this time apart, but how many times will it feel like you can’t? How many breakdowns will you have during the months he is away?
Then the week turns into just a couple of days and then it is the night before. What do you do the night before they deploy? And then it is the day of. You wake up too early, can you sleep through this day?
No, this is the day you say goodbye. The day the countdown begins.
And then it is time to get into the car, you try not to cry, but the tears are right there. You have decided that you simply can’t stay until he leaves. You will say your goodbyes and take the kids back home. That is what works best for you and your family.
And then you give him that one last hug, one last kiss, one last goodbye. You are committed to doing this; you will not walk away, you hope this deployment makes your marriage stronger.
When you get home from dropping them off, you think about all the things he will miss, and that is when the waterworks flow. You worry about their safety and hope you can find a way to calm your fears.
When your spouse deploys, you will find a way to make it through. Through those lonely nights, through the time apart, and through everything that comes your way.