I sit here sipping my cup of grog and cannot help but be reminded of this month 9 years ago – the month my husband deployed overseas.
It wasn’t our first deployment. But it was the first overseas deployment and it was the longest. And I’m sorry to say I don’t feel I handled my husband’s absence all that well either. Oh, don’t misunderstand me. I supported my husband then and now in everything he has done. I am proud of his service, proud of my part in it, and I regret nothing. My husband would never have enlisted in the Guard without me supporting him. It was a decision we made together, and not an easy one, since we were already in our 30’s and he was almost too old to join. We had kids and a mortgage on his single income and piddly extra from what work I did from home.
Enlistment wasn’t in our original “plan” for our life together at all, nor easy to consider financially either. Being a soldier meant a cut in pay no matter what. And I received a lot of criticism for supporting my husband’s enlistment. For “letting” him go.
Still I would make the same decisions again. And honestly, I felt he had a purpose, even a calling, as did I in supporting him. I believe with all my heart that there are young men alive today thanks to him, even if only for his training or watching out for them.
No – that is not where I had trouble handling it. It was that I discovered that being separated for so long was incredibly painful. Emotionally, spiritually and even physically. I think it surprised us both just how much it hurt our souls to be separated, how much we had become a part of each other. I’m not sure if being “older” and with many years of marriage and life experience behind us helped or maybe added to the pain.
Perhaps we become less adaptable as we get older and settle down.
But I also have to think maturity as individuals, as well as in our marriage, had to have played a positive role though. I couldn’t imagine being like some of the young women I looked out for, fresh out of college, newly weds really, new baby, husband now gone. Barely starting out life as “adult.”
However, as pretty down to earth, hard-working folks, my hubby and I weren’t prepared for the idea that we might struggle so much emotionally about being apart. We knew it’d be hard, we just weren’t prepared to feel despair in being separated.
Something I couldn’t have truly understood until going through it. Part of me was missing and all that was left was an oozing wound in my heart that wouldn’t heal.
I never realized how important his presence could be. For myself, or for our children. A father really makes a difference in the home. And in all honesty, I know our relationship is richer, and wiser for the experience; and I am too as a wife and mother. Though it scared me, because it gave me a peek into life without him.
There were days where I really was simply numb. I hadn’t realized that over the years my husband had become such an incredible part of my foundation and source of empowerment. As a woman, as a mom, as a professional. Physically not being able to just call him whenever I wanted was hard. Not seeing him, not being able to talk everything out. Not just… even having him by my side. No hugs, physical touch, no holding me when I cried. I suddenly found my usual more confident self not so strong anymore.
I got through it with a handful of friends who made a point of looking in on me. Lord knows that no matter how many people say “call me if you need anything” to you when you’re really in pain, you won’t. I know I was too overwhelmed. I didn’t have the bandwidth to make that first move and pick up that phone first. So it was good there were those who weren’t hesitant to drop by or make that first call themselves to check on me. It showed me how today people have irrational fears about being there for others.
I got through each day by staying busy. Though sometimes it was all I could do to get the chores done, get the kids through homework and feed them. And they needed me to hold and comfort them when they missed Daddy too.
When you’re a soldier’s wife and a mom, you have to hold yourself together for everyone. Besides the fact that your soldier also needs more than anything for you to be strong, so the last thing they have to worry about while trying to do their job is you. Distractions are not healthy on the battlefield or in training.
I learned many things about myself. Including that I could dig up my own plumbing, and handle a myriad of other strange house repair problems that began to surface practically the day he left town. You know that military curse they talk about, where everything breaks as soon as your husband deploys? It’s surreal, but still real none the less. It happens. Can’t explain it. It just does.
I also got through it by writing, especially poetry. Here’s a piece I wrote for him while he was gone that he especially liked.
Good Morning My Love…
Good Morning My Love…
I go to bed now
Keep watch while I sleep
My full moon is high
And your sun is up
Across the oceans deep
My coldest night
Is your warmest day
With soldiers roosting near
I go to bed
Knowing you will wake
And soon will join me here…
Written 2-12-2006, 10:37pm
Copyright © 2006 – 2014 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.
Seven years ago this month my husband finally finished his tour of active enlistment. I give thanks to have him by my side and be able to watch our children grow up together and live the future we put on hold.
Happy Veterans Day y’all.