I closed my eyes and buried my head in my hands, trying to catch my breath. This is how every deployment starts.
For some reason, there weren’t as many tears this time around. I don’t know, maybe I’m turning into a cold-hardened military spouse who just doesn’t want to care anymore? Then I think about him being gone and the inside of my heart aches.
I’m trying not to, but I do.
I walk into the laundry room and notice the empty desert colored backpack he left behind. I reach my hand into the pack, removing some crumbs, a candy wrapper, and an old pair of gym socks that are better off in the trash than the washer.
The socks reek like old sewage, and I’m reminded how much laundry this deployment is saving me. Tons, right? I’m pulling at strings trying to see the positives of the separation, and I giggle over the ridiculousness of our military life together. Even when he’s a thousand miles away, he still makes me laugh.
Military life, love and loss.
When I first started my military life journey several years ago, I knew it would be hard. I knew it would challenge me in ways I couldn’t foresee or fully comprehend. But I also knew I was preparing to spend my life with someone I loved deeply, I didn’t need to understand what was about to happen. All I knew was I loved him, and hell or high water, I was going to be with him.
Four anniversaries later, I can’t remember which ones we spent together and which ones we spent apart. It all seems kind of a blur now.
I do remember one thing though.
The love and loss of military life.
Several deployments, an overseas move, two babies, and too much wine to count, I’m reminded all the heartache, joy, sadness, excitement, anger and beauty that is military life.
You feel a sense of loss knowing your family is a thousand miles away from you right now. But you feel a sense of love for the friends who are your family when your real family can’t be there.
You feel a sense of loss over the home you built and created, only to leave it behind. But you feel a sense of love for the sweet and cozy home you re-created at your new duty station.
You feel a sense of loss when your service member misses birthdays, holidays and special occasions. But you feel a sense of love for the military spouses who throw you a party and make occasions special even when an important part of your family is missing.
You feel a sense of loss when your child is hurting over an absent parent gone on another work trip or deployment. But you feel a sense of love for Skype, Daddy Dolls, recorded books and custom lamps with a picture of your kids and service member.
You feel a sense of loss that homecoming is so much harder than you ever thought it would be. But you feel a sense of love when you finally learn how to be a family all over again.
You feel a sense of loss saying goodbye to the best friend you made at your last duty station. But you feel a sense of love knowing you’re friends for life, even if the military insists on keeping you thousands of miles apart.
You feel a sense of loss giving up the career you thought you wanted (and dreamed about for years). But you feel a sense of love when you finish your degree or discover a job that is finally a perfect fit for you.
You feel a sense of loss moving to a foreign country and giving up all the comforts of American life. But you feel a sense of love getting to live in a brand new culture and experience things that others never will.
You feel a sense of loss leaving behind the life you always wanted in place of the life you now have. But you feel a sense of love for the amazing military life adventures that built the life you wouldn’t change for the world, even in its most outrageous moments.
You feel a sense of loss when military life forces you to change (change is hard) into someone new. But you feel a sense of love when military life forces you to become more independent and resilient than you ever thought was possible.
My military life love affair.
After tossing the sewage socks in the garbage, I walked back to the living room and laid down on my navy blue couch. I closed my eyes for a second and again covered my face with my hands. This is how every deployment starts.
Everything was quiet, but the thoughts in my head were swirling.
I can always count on military life to bring me enough heartache, joy, sadness, excitement, anger and beauty to last a lifetime.
There is never a dull moment around here, but my heart is full. There is always loss. There is always love. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Want more on military life?
- 10 Things Resilient Military Spouses Do Differently
- 25 Genius Life Hacks for Military Spouses
- 18 Ways Military Life Changes You for the Better
- I’m Terrible at Being a Military Spouse