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Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big deployment naysayer or negative Nelly. Really, I”m not. It’s the half full kind of gal that I am. But, if I’m honest, a deployment is equal to carrying around a lot of baggage for a year.  At least for me.

The baggage begins to pile on even before the deployment begins. When my soldier is training and gearing up for deployment and I begin trying to mentally prepare for the long goodbye. When special dates or holidays roll around and I find myself remembering that the next one will be celebrated sans Big Brooks. When one begins to plan ways to maintain some semblance of sanity and order when your day to day is suddenly very topsy turvey.

And then I get into deployment groove mode, where the first few tough weeks have gone by and the deployment baggage seems easier to lug around. Realizing that worrying is futile and an endless energy drainer. When comforting your child occurs less often because you’re keeping so busy that days meld into each other. When the abnormal finally seems normal, again.

And then the deployment baggage gets heavier again, because you’re so tired. Of worrying. Of missing him. Of parenting alone. Of loneliness because no matter how many people you surround yourself with, he’s irreplaceable.

But it’s not all sadness and grief and loneliness and heaviness. There are so many bright spots during deployments. The phone calls, those crazy long conversations that leave you longing for homecoming but leave you feeling grateful for the person that you are lucky enough to be in love with, and who, wonder of wonders, loves you back. The day to day has so much to offer, and so much to be grateful for that even without him here, even without sharing the day to day physically with him, it’s all amazing in it’s own way.

During RandR Brooks said something to me that literally broke my heart. Because I always think I’m so good at carrying the deployment baggage that I forget that Brooks really sees me for me, no matter how much I try to make this easier on him. He said that it made him sad to realize that Little Brooks and I were living our lives just waiting for him to come home. And so that’s baggage too. Because no matter how much we embrace the day to day, no matter how much we squeeze the joy out of each day, living life to it’s fullest, that’s true too. In so many ways, the heaviness of all that baggage might come primarily from this overwhelming feeling that I’m continually holding my breath until he comes home again.  Perhaps, just like Brooks said, like we’re continually on pause.

So, I for one, am overly thrilled that I can very shortly leave the deployment baggage behind me. I’m looking forward to waking up with my beau as he leaves for PT in the mornings, rushing around to clean the house and make breakfast before he returns. I long to see him walking up the driveway, how the mere sight of him makes me weak in my knees and causes my heart to race. I miss that. I can’t wait to see that patient expression on his face as he comes in the door after a long day at work, my mouth going a mile a minute as I tell him every single detail of our day. More than all those “me” things, I can’t wait to see my boy in his Daddy’s arms. I can’t wait to see them playing together or chatting together or just being together. They’ve missed so much, of each other’s lives. I wonder sometimes how my boy will look back on these times. How he’ll piece that together and if really, if somehow we’ve made it easier for him to bear.

campfire bowl-a-thon fundraiser

So… yay for deployments ending. Yay for amazing friends  and family without whose support I wouldn’t have made it through another deployment so strong and together and loved. Yay for Christmas time together. For all that and more.

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