One of the most common things I hear when people learn that my husband deploys regularly is “oh I can’t even imagine what that’s like”. And I very simply say that they’re right. Because no matter how sympathetic someone is, you just cannot understand what a deployment is like, what it does to you, without going through it. But every so often, when I’m at my wits end and miss A so much it physically hurts, I desperately want to try. I want to tell them my deployment truth.
I can’t always put into words how a deployment makes me feel, but the main feeling is this: I miss my husband when he is deployed. I miss him when I wake up in the morning and he’s not there. I miss him when I come home from work and the house is empty. I miss him when I’m baking and there’s no one there to lick the spoon. And I miss him at night when I go to bed and his half of the sheets are cold.
The best way I can describe a deployment is this: imagine taking the person that you love more than anyone else in the world, your best friend, who you rely on more than anyone else. It could be a spouse or a friend or a parent. Do you have that person? Good. Now remove them from your life completely. They are no longer someone you get to see, talk to, or interact with on a daily basis.
Now, you can only talk to them maybe once a week on the phone if you’re lucky. You may get to video chat with them once every couple of weeks. Provided of course the weather is good and the signal is strong and you were both awake at the same time.
But go through the rest of your life like normal. Get up every morning and go to work or take the kids to school as if you haven’t spent all night tossing and turning. Cook and clean and take care of all of the chores, including the super icky ones that make you gag a little bit.
And then, to top it all off, take that person that you love more than anyone else and you can’t talk to and you can’t see and put them in one of the world’s most dangerous places. Stop watching the news, stop reading websites, stop checking the trending topics on Facebook. Because you never know when you’re going to read something that mentions the place where your loved one is. That mention may have nothing to do with your loved one; that mention may be on the complete other side of the country. But for a brief second, your heart is going to stop and you’re going to be terrified. And that terror will sit like a rock in your stomach until you hear from them.
So imagine taking the person you love more than anyone else in the world, the person you rely on, your best friend. Take them and remove them from your life with only a few phone calls, maybe an email or if you’re really lucky, a voice chat to keep you connected. And then worry constantly until they’re home again. Worry about their safety, their health, their well-being, whether they’re happy. Worry whether they’re eating dinner at a good time or at all. Worry whether they got enough sleep to be able to do their job properly. Worry if right this second there is someone out there plotting to do something horrible to them. Every second of every day.
That is what a deployment is like.
I firmly believe every deployment is different and its story deserves to be told. If you’re interested in telling your deployment story, please reach out to me via email!