Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Looming D Word

First of all, I want to say that I am incredibly thankful that my husband will be home this holiday season and potentially, next holiday season. I am thankful for the time he does get to spend with the kids and I. This blog isn't about being unappreciative. It's about the emotions of an upcoming deployment.

I knew Jeff would be deploying in the spring at some point of time. I knew it would be for six to eight months. I knew the job, generally speaking, that he would be carrying out. I knew it all. I've done this five or six other times. In fact, we just went through a six deployment from June to December of last year.

Now that a potential departure date has been released, it seems more real. It's also heartbreaking, because he could possibly be leaving on my birthday. Of course, it's all potential and if you know anything about the military, don't write anything in pen. Have a backup plan for your backplan. Everything changes all the time and without warning. 

Having done this before doesn't mean it will be easier. I remember a chief's wife telling me at my first Readiness Group Meeting, "Oh you get used to it." Yeah, after 12.5 years of being a military spouse, I don't really think that I have gotten used to it or that it has gotten easier. Perhaps my coping skills have gotten more refined. But, I've never get used to sleeping alone, worrying about my husband, or kissing away the tears of my children who miss their father.

As any seasoned military spouse can and will tell you, what can happen on deployment, will happen. It seems karma brings all it's downfalls in the time that our spouses are deployed.  A lot of us spouses are hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from our closest family and/or friend. Most of us do it alone. Last deployment, I took all three children to the ER with me, twice. The nurse who called me back asked if there was someone I could call for the chlidren. Uh no, not really. And that was only in the first two months of Jeff's deployment.

I'm really not looking forward to spending six to eight more months without my husband. I hate it. I go into survivor mode and never really know how exhausted I am until I see him step foot off that boat during homecoming. It's rough, I'm not going to lie. And I know a lot of folks have it worse. It doesn't make it any easier to know that.

I really just don't want to do it. But I know it's coming. It won't get here any slower just because I'm kicking and screaming or dragging my feet. Time will still move forward and he will be whisked away.

I never get used to sleeping alone, even though I joke that I have to get used to sleeping with him again when he returns. The nights are lonely, especially after the kids are in bed. Even though I am exhausted at the end of the day, it doesn't feel as if my day is complete because I haven't talked with him. And that's the part that I miss the most: companionship. Some wives joke it's the sex and it is, to an extent. But more than that, it's the conversation, the watching of television together, the waiting for each other before we retire for the night. It's going to bed next to the man I love and listening to him breathe as I fall asleep. It's the way our four year old daughter chants his name when he walks in the door from work like he's a rockstar - she won't be doing that for six months. It's the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. It's the moments I want to share with him but he's not here to experience them. It's the honor roll recognitions of the boys in school or a birthday or a holiday. It's our 13th anniversary that he will miss. It's the breaking down into tears at some stupid song or commerical on television. It's making his favorite dish for dinner and knowing he's not here to enjoy it. It's finding a sock or shirt that missed the laundry for the first couple of months. It's sleeping with his pillow. It's giving our children two hugs and kisses, one for me and one for daddy. It's answering the tough questions that little ones ask and explaining things to the older ones who have more of a grasp of what their father's job entails. It's tackling simple tasks like grocery shopping with all three kids. It's dealing with behavior outbursts appropriately - is it normal behavior or rebelllion because daddy is gone. It's turning to tell him something and then feeling silly because he's not there. It's the mountains of emails I send because my heart is hurting and my soul is brusied. It's the being strong because I have to, when I really just want to retreat into the fetal position.

I simply don't want to do it again. I've had my fill. But it's coming, whether I want it to or not. It's going to happen. His departure date will be here faster than I know it. The months are going to fly. The days are going to go by in doubletime.
I will watch him pack his seabag. I will listen as he explains paperwork like Powers of Attorney, his wills in the event that something happens to him, his specifics on his Page 2. I will lie awake all night watching him sleep. I will move in slow motion, trying to slow time down. I will talk with my children. I will drive him to base. I will watch from the pier as his ship moves away. I will curse the tugboats taking him away from me. I will stand there with my three children until we cannot see his ship any longer. And then I will stand there some more, hoping that the knot in my stomach and the anchors tied to my shoes will go away so that I can move. I will drive back to our home with tears streaming down my face. I will try to sound strong for my children. I will hug my little one and tell her it'll be alright. I will tell her that daddy's job is very important. I will tell her how he protects us from the badguys. I will try to hug my oldest one and tell him not to bottle up his emotions. I will ask, repeatedly, if he is ok only to get his nodded head in response. I will answer the millions of questions our middle child will have. I will grow weary. I will grow weak. And we will start, that day, our countdown until he is back home with us.
We will send care packages and pictures. We will make videos of us laughing and proclaiming our love for him. We will send emails saying how much we miss him. We will get through each day, because that's what we do. There isn't any other option.
We will get excited at the halfway point. We will celebrate our survival. We will continue to countdown. And when we are one month to having our Jeff home with us once again, time will taunt us. While she sped up the months and days before his departure, she will slow down in the weeks before his arrival.
The night before, we won't sleep. We will make signs and decorate our home. We will, once again, roll out the red carpet, and put up our Daddy banners. We will write on our car windows. We will get our flags ready. We will lie awake thinking the sweet thoughts of having Jeff home and life becoming  "normal" once again.
The next morning, I will do my hair, getting frustrated and downright emotional over the curl that won't stay. I will put my makeup on, smudging my mascara at least five times. I will smooth my clothes out while looking at my reflection, hoping that I'm as he remembered me and that he still thinks I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. My stomach holds butterflies as my throat holds my heart. I will dress our little one in a new fabulous outfit. We will leave for the pier way too early. We will sit in the van, until people we know start to arrive. We will laugh and talk with everyone else, but we will continue to be preoccupied with catching the first glimpse of the ship's mast over the other ships in port. We will cheer, hoot, and holler when it finally comes into sight. I will jump up and down like an adolescent school girl, and I'll feel like one too.
Time will yet again laugh at me as we wait for the ship to get to the pier. I will once again curse those tugs for being so painfully slow. I will watch intensely as the brow is put on the ship.I will jump around and move so that I can see my sailor coming off that ship. I will run to him. I will cry. I will feel complete. The kids will run. They will hug their daddy tightly. Jeff will be bombarded by the four of us who have missed him dearly for the last six months.
We will drive home to the sounds of the kids chattering over each other, catching their dad up on the last six months. He will smile and wink at me. I will still be grinning from ear to ear.

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