CONTRIBUTED BY COLLEEN FRANCIS
I’m asked often by family, and ‘non military’ friends what it is like having your husband gone. It’s usually rather funny because either days earlier or weeks later they will complain that their husbands are going on a fishing trip, or have to travel for work for a few days, or even better… they have to work late tonight, and they have it so hard. I try really hard not to laugh and I really want to sympathize, but it’s not easy. Sometimes I want to scream. I will try to express as best I can to express the hearts of military wives…
This is a picture of the good times.
One of my dearest and best BFF’s. What a sweet kiss her husband stole at the Marine Corps Ball this year. He just left for another deployment. Another? Yes. Less than a year ago he returned from a 12 month deployment to Iraq, and he’s gone again for another 7 this time to Afghanistan. They have three children and have been married 18 years.
This is a D-Day photo…Deployment Day. The picture tells the entire story.
We met this couple over 10 years ago when our husbands were instructors together. They have two children and have been married over 15 years. What does all of this mean? It means we 100% embrace the great times and 100% embrace the heart ache. A heart ache that cannot be understood by the average person and is only reserved for those that carry the title Military Spouse. We have to kiss our best friend, our babies’ parent, our lover, our mate, our everything one last time holding onto every moment of every breath as if it could be our last because none of us truly know if it is our last moment together. Our spouses do not fly to Vegas for a conference or ride to Daytona for Bike Week. They are gone for months on end, year after year. They miss the birth of their children, anniversaries, holidays, 4th of Julys and the first days of school. They miss out on their daughter’s first kiss, the first time their son stood up to a bully, homemade dinners, baseball games, tea parties, teenagers with driver’s permits, and new puppies.
We, the military spouses, are repeatedly told that we “were not issued with their sea bags” and are not a priority to the military. We are extra baggage. But we also know that these warriors depend on us to stand strong and carry the torch, while also keeping the lawn mowed, cars tuned up, bills paid, house clean, laundry done, homework completed, work accomplished, care packages sent, letters and emails written and most of all keeping a level head. Especially when the family back home, who never sees them, falls apart and can’t handle the deployment, we are there… holding it all together reminding them and reassuring them that God is in control.
We cry ourselves to sleep because the pillow next to us is empty again. We wipe away our tears at the dinner table when our son says, “This is Daddy’s favorite meal, sure wish he was here to eat it with us.” We sometimes go to Wal-Mart or the commissary with a ball cap on and dirty jeans and t-shirt because we truly don’t have the energy to take a shower or take care of ourselves because we so busy taking care of everyone and everything else. We build homes with blood sweat and tears, we make trips to the ER for tetanus shots, broken bones and stitches… alone. Holding it all together, praying night after night for a phone call or an email anything to tell us that another day has passed and our warrior is okay.
We cringe at the sight of black cars in a friend’s driveway, but we are smart enough to plan a head… we have a plan of action for the “what if”. And then we pray 24/7 never to use that plan. It’s not a simple fire escape route, it is the my-world-has-collapsed-around-me-I-can-no-longer-breath plan. We can’t tell you what’s really on our hearts because if we speak we won’t be able to stop. We appear fearless in the eyes of man, but I believe only God truly knows my heart. I believe He sees my pain, the gaping hole from the missing piece of us that only our spouse can fill. And I rely on God and the mental images of my husband standing next to me to make it through each and every deployment.