What Military Deployment Feels Like For The Family Left Behind

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“It’s almost like having surgery. You are unsure going in and wake up feeling nervous. Hazy. And when you finally make it to recovery — you can’t really recall what has transpired. Occasionally there is the residual pain, but it can usually be managed.

The military pre-deployment phase, the months ‘working up’ to the actual separation, is usually when the really wacky, irrational behavior kicks in.

Like, the dirty boots on the floor. This is a fight he ain’t gonna win.

Only… It ain’t about the boots.

It’s the knowing. What’s to come. After nine deployments, I can admit it. Deep down, I know. I’ll soon miss those damn, smelly boots.

There’s no sugarcoating it. The whole process sucks: before, during, after.

And that’s ok. I’ve decided I can be a supportive, patriotic military wife, while still being pissed about the leaving part.

Valli Vida Gideons/My Battle Call

I cringe as flak jackets and helmets are packed. After all, when is the right time to go over burial wishes? Inevitably having to explain why I would not be comfortable having his ashes shot out of a cannon over the parade deck of his alma mater.

And no matter how many times we’ve been down this road, it doesn’t get easier. If it did, something would be wrong. It’s not natural. I know it. And we know it. But, it is our normal.

Once the ship sails or the plane takes flight, there’s an overwhelming sense of loss. Then, slowly acceptance sets in. This time, though, our kids are older and will likely experience a whole new set of feelings. I can only imagine. With a greater grasp of the reality of the world we live in, we can’t spin it or lie. They deserve more respect.

The inherent danger is a fact. And that’s what keeps me up at night. Sure, they are incredibly proud of their dad, but that doesn’t erase their pain; nor should we expect it to do so.

How do you provide comfort yet validate their fears? It’s not fair. No sir. Birthdays, holidays, parent-teacher conferences, vacations, games, Sundays, sick days. I will fail because I can’t be mom and dad. It takes grace, but often I misstep.

Months and months pass.

Eventually, the anticipation of the homecoming begins.

And then…

The return. Dirty boots back on the floor.

We will be back under one roof as a family again.

It takes time to adapt. Adjust. We have to acclimate to living as a G4 rather than 3.

There’s a transition, entirely different than seen in the movies. Everyone has to find their way. And it’s not always pretty.

Only later, the amnesia sets back in. And we are back in recovery. Prouder, braver and God willing, intact.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Valli Vida Gideons, founder of the blog, My Battle Call, where it originally appeared. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to our best love stories here

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