You know that something is traumatic when now 10 years later I still can vividly remember the day it happened. I had never been through a deployment before, and I hadn’t even been married to my husband a year, and he was there saying goodbye. It was going to be an entire year. Our first anniversary, my 21st birthday, and many other things apart. And I was thousands of miles away from any of my family. And the one person I had relied on for everything the past year was walking onto a white bus with all his military gear, leaving me in a house alone and lost.
To this day, any time I see a big white bus when I am near a military base I get such sad feelings, because I know that those buses haul away loved ones to places often unknown to fight something much bigger than any of us alone.
Those buses leave behind wives, sisters, brothers, parents, kids and pets who not only feel their absence when they don’t come home at night, but also in our souls, not knowing if that hug was the last. We try to go on with life while they are gone and keep the normal for our families. But that is never what happens, things don’t just go on as usual with just them missing. Entire routines must be re-written.
Bedtime stories are missing those funny little voices only dad can do, dinner is burnt a little because although dad tried to make the meatballs like mom’s its never quite the same. Kids have a hard time in a class they loved because all they can think about is what their parent is doing in a country so far away. It isn’t just an absence its an entire shift of the usual into what often feels like survival mode.
We cherish the phone calls, and we tell them all the funny and cute stories, we tell them the wonderful things the kids did in sports, the silly new trick the dog learned, and about the precious pictures we are going to send to them in their next care package.
But what we don’t tell them is where that shift is, we don’t tell them today after dropping off the kids we cried in the driveway because when they said “mom would have loved that song we sang during circle time” made you want to hear her beautiful voice singing along to songs in the car next to you. Or how your friend at church was bragging about the promotion their son got at work and you haven’t heard from your son in weeks and pray hard each day that your phone will ring. Or when the toilet clogs, water is running everywhere, and you can’t just run into the living room and have your husband come to your rescue. It’s the tiny things that people not in the military take advantage of. They are so heavy sometimes.
Finding your tribe filled with passionate, experienced and loving people, hopefully military families is the best way to make those times where you just need a hug, a coffee, or even a drink with a listening ear easier. That is why Deployed Love is growing the way it is we want to make sure you know where to reach out, and we hope that everyone who attends one of our events feels like they are part of a community of people who have been there, are going through it with you and are always, always, always available to chat and help you through those days.
Written by Sabrina Johannes Executive Director