Deployment is a lonely island no one can prepare you for. Pre-baby days, towards the beginning of Tyler and I there was a night the two of us stayed in. We lounged in our sweats, drank our favorite beer, danced around like fools together and watched a movie. We ended the night with pillow talks. We got on to the topic about the army, what it meant to him. I remember him telling me he hoped to get deployed one day. That he would have the chance and privileged to serve in that manner. I remember laying there thinking if him and I were together when that time came I could do it. I could wait for him, support him and get him through that. Who knew that would be foreshadowing. Fast forward a few years and a baby later. Its early February. We just got home from our first parent’s weekend getaway. The three of us spent the day together eating Chipotle, we were lounging in sweats and Ella was dancing to I Like to Move It Move It. Tyler and I are rolling on the flooring laughing and the three of us are about to snuggle into bed and watch Moana (yet again). The phone rings and Tyler runs downstairs to take the call. Not like him. I knew something was up and I, being nosy eavesdrop the conversation and that is when I heard the news. I felt like my world had been shattered and I will never forget that day. How innocent it was. How in the matter of seconds, in the matter of one phone call our lives would be turned upside down. He came back upstairs, we hugged and talked about the little information we did know. The difference between the first time that thought ran through my head to moment it actually happened is quite different. So much had changed between then and now. We had a family, a home, jobs established. Tyler grew to my best friend and the love of my life between then and now and life all together was VERY DIFFERENT. I did not have the confidence that everything would be dandy like I did back then because I had so much on line this time. So much that would change, so many moments missed and my best friend would leave for a good amount of time and face danger. Months went by and he came home only to be gone again to train. At this point we moved in with family for financial saving and safety reasons for when he was gone. Adjusting was hard. I was not used to this lifestyle. Tyler was not active duty but reserve. We did not eat, sleep and breathe the military life before this. They used to just borrow him once a month and two weeks in the summer.
Now its been about a week since hes gone for this deployment and I wish I could say its getting easier. It’s not. Im just getting better at the situation. I am becoming increasingly good at swallowing back the tears. I am learning that missing someone so much can feel like chest pain. That the pain can feel so deep that it burns. I am learning how not to tear up at the multiple questions thrown my way that reopen wounds I am trying to treat. I think the worse is the one I like to call the triple-threat that goes something like this… “How are you handling this?” “How is Ella? Does she miss him?” I almost cry typing that question. I watch my almost two year old daughter hug and kiss a wallet size photo of my husband almost everyday. I have to watch Elmo talk about how his daddy won’t be here for a very, very long time. My daughter always pulls the same book for me to read to her; Over There a book about kids and where their daddies go when they are deployed. I have to sit there and be strong and not have a crack in my voice or a tear in my eye because she needs the reassurance that it is OK and she too is trying to understand why her daddy is gone. I hear her little voice bellow “DADDY” every time she hears someone at the door. The thought of everything that he will miss including milestones, her growth physically and mentally, her laugh, every holiday including Christmas, Easter and her second birthday plays in my head like a haunted movie reel. So when you ask me the question “How is Ella handling this?” That’s what goes through my head. On the inside I am wishing I was crawling into a hole instead of talking but instead I will smile at you and tell you she misses him but she is doing OK.
When you ask me how I am doing is it because it is a convenient center piece of conversation or do you really want to know?
If I am being honest I want to say I am doing good. But Im not. I want to say I am being a rock star wife and giving my husband every ounce of confidence he needs but I am not. I wish I could say I am being the strongest mother and daughter in law I am suppose to be, but I am not. I feel this pressure and responsibility to be the back bone, to be the strong support system back home but I feel like I am failing. That is how I am doing. Like I said, I am not a seasoned military spouse. All these big life changes come swinging at me like a bat.
This is my first year of marriage. Life is suppose to be full of love and happiness this year but we are both adjusting to the new people we are becoming. I am not used to seeing him come and go and come and go and go and go. Im not used to packing the ruck sack over and over again. I am not used to doing this all alone. Being a parent alone, doing the bills alone, watching our favorite shows alone, drinking my Sunday coffee alone. I’m not used to his side of the bed being cold and vacant. I’m not used to driving around with no shot gun rider ( well let’s be honest I AM normally the shot gun rider). I’m not used to the acronym language everyone spews in the military. I’m not used to this ever lingering change and seeing him dressed from head to toe in camo consistently .
But- he has a job to do over there as I have a job to do over here.
So, I cry my tears in my car to sad songs or alone in the shower after my daughter is fast asleep. I cry at a year’s worth of memories not being made with the three of us, uncertainties, and missing him. I cry to the moments I wish he could be here for, the hard moments when I need my best friend and the good moments when I wish he could celebrate with me. I pray. I pray for his safety, happiness and my own well being. After I am done with my tears and talks with God I pick my head up and move forward. Only to recycle back to these feelings when I again crumble.
But, if you ask me how I am doing I will look at you, smile and tell you I am doing fine. I will tell you I got a new job, I am working on my blog, taking care of Ella and that I even got a gym membership.I will continue to tell you I am fine to your face but that is only partially the truth. I am working VERY hard to adjust to my new norm and quite frankly I do not find that question very fair. Know in reality, I am counting down the days till this deployment becomes a homecoming because this is the hardest battle I have yet to encounter.
and that is how I am doing.