We learned from the last time and decided to drop my husband off a few hours before he would have to leave. I didn’t want to stick around until the last moment. We hugged, we kissed and took some videos. Knowing full well that our boys would be that much older when he would see them again. Knowing that we would both grow and change as people, on our own and thousands of miles away from each other.
One last hug, one last kiss. I put the boys in the car, I turned to the back seat and told them, “We got this. We totally got this.” And then, I drove away, leaving my husband in the background, knowing that this deployment would be another challenging period of time our family would have to endure.
The day you drop off your spouse will stay with you for the rest of your life. The last hug, the last kiss, the last touch, the goodbye, watching them walk away from you. Watching them disappear not knowing when you will see them again or what life will be like when you do.
What can you do on this deployment day? How can you get through it?
Plan the rest of the day
Make sure you have plans for after you say goodbye. Go to dinner with friends, order take out and have a movie night, go for a long walk or even do something normal like go grocery shopping. If you need to, go home and cry. That’s okay too. Just know that the first day is going to be a shock to your system. It’s not going to seem real and getting through the first part of a deployment is going to take some time.
Make a list of friends you can call during your deployment. Who do you want to get together with? Who do you want to spend your time with? Who can you depend on? Start making plans with them and have a backup plan in case of emergencies. If you don’t have any friends where you live, make plans to find some. Go to local groups, attend FRG meetings and try to get out and be social, at least every few days. If you have a long-distance friend you can count on, give them all call and let them know the deployment has started. They can be there for you too.
Fill your calendar
You should have a rough idea about how long the deployment is going to be. Know that the dates can change, and by quite a few months sometimes too. However, if you can plan out the months they will be gone, you will feel better about the time they are away. Plan a trip, sign up for a class, start a new hobby and connect with your community. Find out about local events and sign up for any group that looks interesting to you.
The first day they are gone is a good time to make your deployment goals if you haven’t already. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to work on? Do you want to become a reader? Repaint your home? Go back to school? Having these goals to work through will help you stay busy and accomplish things when your spouse is deployed.
You can cry
Some of us cry more than others. That’s okay. It might be the smallest of things that cause the water works to come. That’s okay too. You will probably want to cry a lot that first day and into the next. That is okay and normal. Crying is our bodies way of getting out the sadness and most of the time, the day after a good cry is a much better deployment day.
Buy your favorite meal
Treat yourself to your favorite meal. Make something ahead of time, order food to go or even take yourself out to eat. Having a nice meal on your more difficult days can be a good way to get through them. Since the first day they are gone is going to be the most difficult, having something good to eat will be comforting to you. Figure this out ahead of time so you have a plan when you drop them off.
Remember that not every deployment day is going to be as hard as that first day was. Some days will be good, others will take you down but remember, deployments do not last forever and somehow you will get through. Whether the deployment is just a few weeks, a few months or over a year, you will have a homecoming date to look forward to.