A very wise woman, whose husband is retired military, told me that the first few months, and the last few months of a deployment are the hardest. I assume every situation is different, but she gave me hope. Because life is so good to me. We are doing really well. We miss Mr. Smith around here like crazy, but we are blessed to be busy, and the kids are my saving grace. Yes, I'm more tired than usual, chasing those munchkins around by myself, but they keep me laughing and fulfilled everyday. This is mostly for my own record keeping, but some may be interested in the details of our deployment experience, so I hope you don't mind me sharing our story on occasion.
The last several days before Harrison left were the worst. Tears, tears, tears. The anticipation was awful. Trying to picture (and trying to ignore) what that final goodbye would be like. How would Jack take it? What would I do? Would Harrison be safe? He was scheduled to leave on November 10th, but we found out a few days before, that he was pushed back a day to November 11th in the evening. Then, a few hours before he was supposed to report, we received notice that his flight was pushed back to the next morning. So we wake up on the morning of the 12th (Veteran's day of all days) to find out his flight had been pushed back again another four hours. And every time we had a change of plans, our first thought was, "Yay! More time together!" Then the thought that quickly followed was, "Oh no, I have to start this goodbye process all over again..." Yuck. It was a roller coaster of emotions for three days. When it was time for him to leave, we had my sister in law (thank you, Liz!) come sit with the boys at our house, and Harrison said his goodbyes to them there. That was hard. I hate thinking about how much older and how different they'll be when he gets back. But thankfully Jack was excited to play with his cousin, so he had some distraction. We left and grabbed a quick lunch, and drove up to post, only to find out, we were STILL TWO HOURS EARLY. Are you feeling my pain yet, people? Let's just get this over with, already! We had already eaten, and we didn't want to drive the 20 minutes back home to have him say goodbye to the boys again, so we got dessert somewhere and talked for awhile, then went to the store and got him a few last minute things for his trip. While we were out, Harrison was in uniform, and a sweet man thanked him for his service. I wanted to yell, "Yeah, and he's deploying today!" haha, but I know Harrison would've killed me. He's much too humble for that kind of attention.
When it was finally, finally time to go back to his office, there were many Soldiers and families there spending what time they had left together, and everyone was trying to keep the mood light. With the send off of the deployment, there are no big ceremonies, just simple and private goodbyes. I was doing some FRG tasks, and talking with other military wives, while Harrison was working on getting his men organized with last minute things. His company had a final formation, (roll call) and then it was time. Our goodbye was simple and sweet. (I'll spare you the mushy stuff). By this point, we were both ready to get this deployment started, so we could begin the countdown. That first night was not a fun one, I'll be honest. But I am so blessed. I have great friends who are going through this right along with me, and we find comfort in our common situation. My family and Harrison's family have been so incredibly supportive. Friends who live far away have made such an effort to reach out to me, and let me know they were thinking of me. I think one day in particular, I had four friends call me - some of which I hadn't talked to in months! I felt so loved. And my friends here at church have lifted me up so much. Everyone has offered (and insisted!) on watching the boys to give me a little break - and I hope they know their kindness has not gone unnoticed.
I have had a few bad days, but the good days have far outweighed the bad! I am so blessed to talk to Harrison pretty often through email or on Skype. He is loving what he is doing there, and does such a good job of telling me what his missions are like, so I feel apart of his day to day life. But he's also very good at not worrying me with the details of what he's doing. haha.
One month down, eight to go!
We've got this.
So far, so good.
|This was about 30 minutes before goodbyes, so I took what I could get from the boys|
|We are laughing so hard, because Jack is taking the picture. The camera was bigger than his whole head. |
But it turned out pretty good, for a three year old!