I recently faced the fateful day many veteran military spouses have faced on multiple occasions; the day when half of my heart is ripped out and travels away from me on an aircraft carrier. How does one ever truly prepare for their spouse's first deployment? I made lists, arranged a power-of-attorney, contacted our credit card companies, phone company and insurance company, but was not fully prepared for the emotional agony of saying goodbye. I was also not prepared for the sobering conversations about the possibility of becoming a POA and discussing in detail my beloved spouse's funeral preferences. Should I have been aware of the tougher aspects? Of course. I think my mind was avoiding the hardest part until the last second.
I find it now to be a blessing and a curse. I was able to happily enjoy the last few days with my spouse before he left. I think if I had let the "reality" of his upcoming situation settle in, it may have ruined our last couple of days together. How do you seasoned deployment survivors handle this? I cried the hardest I have in a long time after dropping him off and thought to myself, I will have a good cry and get it all out. That lasted a week until I sent him the first care package. I am sure the poor postal workers were confused on why sending a package set off the water works, but I think that is when his absence fully set in. The only nice and thoughtful things I can do for my spouse are restricted to sending letters and packages. Aside from that, I can do nothing to comfort, support and take care of him. The rational part of me is saying yes, you can, by taking care of the house, finances and everything at home is doing something...but it just doesn't feel the same.
The only thing that has made me feel better is reading the accounts and candid writings of other spouses and utilizing some wonderful friends who have been through the same thing. I have never found the military spouse community to be more supportive and helpful. I hope I can touch at least one person who felt the same way when their spouse deployed and help them realize they are not alone in feeling this way (and hopefully I am not the only one who cries at the post office).
I could not be more proud of my spouse, every service member, and of the men and women who wait for them back at home. I keep reminding myself, at the end of the day, it is one day closer to their safe return home. Please share how you cope with your deployments/deployment goodbyes in the comments.