The bags were packed and it was time to go. The hug was a little extra long and there were more than a few tears shed because this was the day my husband left for deployment. In some ways, it was an exact repeat of the scene that played out eight months ago when he left the first time this year. But in one huge way, it was very different.
The bags were mine. I was the one getting on the plane first.
You see, in a super weird turn of events, I had a work trip booked for the exact same day as A’s departure. It was certainly not my first choice, knowing how hard it would be for me to walk away from him sooner than I “had to”, but there was no way around it.
Military spouses have to watch a lot of leaving, between deployments, trainings and people around us moving, it becomes part of our lifestyle. And while we do our own share of leaving our homes, friends and family multiple time during our spouse’s career, it’s not often that we leave at the start of a deployment.
And now I completely understand why.
Y’all, I was an epic disaster leading up to leaving and an even bigger one once the front door shut behind me. I honestly don’t know how my husband does it. But once I got to the airport, I gained a little bit of insight into something he’d told me for years.
“It’s easier to be the one leaving.”
All this time, I was convinced he told me that so that I wouldn’t worry about him being sad (believe me, I’m covering down on it for the both of us). But once I got swept up in the hustle and bustle of the airport, I found myself (grudgingly) realizing that he may be right.
The enemy of a military spouse staring down a deployment is time. Time to think, time alone, time to worry. The more time you have, the more time you allow yourself to wallow in being sad, in missing him or her, in dreading how slowly the months ahead will pass. And don’t get me wrong, some wallowing is good! It’s what ice cream and the Hallmark Channel were invented for.
But when you’re the one staying behind, you can have too much time to wallow, which I think actually makes things worse.
As hard as leaving first was, I think it actually turned out to be a bit of a good thing. It was kind of like ripping the Band-Aid off. Yes, it hurt, but the pain was sharp and there was a bit of relief in it not being drawn out. I didn’t have time to mope. I couldn’t wander around the house being sad. I had places to go, planes to catch.
I was the one leaving.