The Predeployment Diaries: How did we get here?

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How the hell did we get here again? I’m up late, working on a revision of my manuscript, and as I watch him sleeping (in a cute, non-stalker way), I notice the way he’s changed in the last couple of years, the lines and stresses that soften in his sleep, making him once more the boy I fell in love with. And it strikes me, soon he’s leaving, and I’ll miss those changes, the small marks of aging when he’s gone again.

I’ve avoided thinking about it. Denial isn’t just a river, but we’re five months out from round four.

Didn’t he just get home? Didn’t we just readjust? Didn’t I just get used to having football on my television all the time? There’s so much we haven’t done with his dwell time. How on God’s green Earth is it already time for him to gear up to deploy again?

 The anxiety has started, the lump that grows in my throat, pricking tears in my eyes when I entertain the reality that soon he won’t be here again. The macabre thoughts that we have to make this Christmas count. Before deployment number three, I identified this feeling as the “clicking” a roller coaster makes, anticipating the drop.  But this time is different.  It’s a bone-deep weariness, knowing that while we had four years between deployments two and three, we’re lucky to get 18 months dwell time now.  My emotional tank is empty, and yet we’re about to run the gauntlet again.

Sweet Lord, how did we get here?  Where did this last year get to?  How can we be so close to saying goodbye again, to praying that it’s not the last time?  I’m so weary of the worry, and I know he is too.

Sometimes this life we chose feels like being pressed to death, heavier and heavier weights settled upon our chests, making it harder and harder to catch a deep breath before another is placed.  I can’t help but wonder how many wives have stood here, with another deployment looming and begged God as I have for this to stop, or at least to know that this is the last time.  But it’s not.  When he returns, if we get the duty station we’d like, he’ll have to deploy again.  There are so many damn straws that the camel is buried.

But I can’t start out this way, or I’ll come out a freaking nut case.  The problem is that this time I feel like I’m floundering for the answers that usually come so easily to me.  I’ll be strong, yeah, because I have to for our marriage and our four little boys.  The problem is that strength has to come from somewhere, and it’s in short supply right now, in our house, in our family, in our company.  The seasoned wives among us are all running on empty, leaning on one another because we’re all that we can depend on.  Seasoned.  Huh.  More like weathered, beaten down, exhausted, scarred and scared.

How did we get here?  I don’t understand.  Yesterday we were laughing, clasping onto one another in sweet relief that he had survived another turn, that we were still wildly in love.  Yesterday I watched those hangar doors open and rushed into his waiting arms.  But though it feels like it, yesterday was over a year ago, and time has slipped by while we weren’t careful.

I don’t have a solution for this, or an upbeat little plan.  What I have is Scarlett O’hara, so I’ll think about this tomorrow.  Or the next day, or the next month.  I’m going to swallow this lump, and go back to paddling down the Nile, ignoring the sand that’s slipping too quickly through the hourglass.  Because I simply can’t go there yet.  So I’ll be here, in this moment, in this hour, because I can’t look any further than that.

Oh, and he’s really cute when he sleeps.  

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