Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Year Gone By

            On a beautiful April morning one year ago, I dropped my daughter off at preschool and set out for some morning errands.  I was feeling particularly happy on that morning because we were half way through my husband’s month-long training exercise and knew that I only had two more weeks before he returned from California.  I hated EMV training.  For some reason, it seemed worse than deployments.  Even though I knew well in advanced the month in which Randall would be away, it still seemed to sneak up on me as though I only had one week’s notice.  I remember the night before he left for this one, we were lying on the couch watching TV and I began to cry.  Randall asked me what was wrong and I told him that I had just realized that I was going to have to be alone with the kids for the next month.  It would be me against two unruly toddlers, and I was not prepared.  I thought back to the last EMV training the previous summer and how frustrated I had become just one week into a four-week long stretch.  By the last few days of it I had concluded that I would not attempt to take the kids anywhere else because I was just too tired of having them act up everywhere we went.  We were not going to leave the house until it was time to go pick up daddy.  As I sat there that night remembering the struggles of taking care of the kids on my own, the tears flooded my eyes and all I could think about was how badly I didn’t want to do it.
               Much to my dismay, Randall headed out to California the next morning.  It was just my luck that the day he left was the first day of Spring break for my daughter’s pre-school, which meant I had both kids all morning long for a week.  I tried my best to stay positive.  I kept telling myself how lucky I was because at least it wasn’t a deployment.  It had been fifteen months since Randall got home from his last deployment and there wasn’t another one slated for him in the near future.  The next possibility was nine months later in January, which gave me plenty of time to prepare.  Lucky I was, because I was certain that not many other pilots’ wives could say the same about the length of time their husbands had been home.  Somehow I made it through that first week of Spring break, and almost another full week beyond that.  That is why I was feeling so good on this particular morning as I ran my errands with my two-year old son in tow.  My last stop was to World Market.  Randall and I enjoy drinking a glass of wine together after the kids go to bed and, in preparation for his return, it was time to stock up the wine fridge.  It made me so happy to pick out different wines thinking about how soon we would be able to enjoy them together.  I couldn’t wait for him to get home and see what I picked out.  I kept daydreaming about sitting down, glass of wine in hand, and discussing all of our plans for the upcoming summer.  We surely had to plan a family trip somewhere, and perhaps we would be fortunate enough to take a weekend away just the two of us.  Oh, how elated I was that morning as I knew my daydreams would soon become reality.  After my errands I picked up my daughter from school and eventually got the kids settled down for their afternoon nap.  With the newly-purchased wines resting neatly in the wine fridge, I got comfortable on my bed and began reading.  I had only read but the first few lines of the book when my phone rang.
                The words hit me like a ton of bricks.  I almost couldn’t breathe.  Deployment.  Mid-May.  Six to seven months.  I was crushed.  I could see all of my plans, my dreams for our summer together, going up in smoke.  Not only was he going to be deploying in a month, but he was still in California for training and wouldn’t even be home for at least another week and a half.  This meant the kids and I had three weeks to see daddy before he had to leave.  The first few minutes of hearing the news I was simply hysterical.  I cried so hard that I couldn’t even talk to Randall on the phone and told him I would have to call him back.  Over the next few minutes my hysteria turned into anger.  When I finally caught my breath long enough to call him back, I was mad.   “Why is this happening?  Why didn’t they give you more notice?  How could they only give us three weeks to prepare for something so huge?”  It just wasn’t fair.  The spirit that had filled my soul earlier that morning was gone and I now had to figure out how I was going to get through the summer with just me and the kids.  The pride that I usually had for the Marine Corps turned into resentment.  I told Randall that if this is how it was going to be, then he needed to get out of the Marine Corps sooner rather than later.
                We all say things we don’t necessarily mean when we are angry.  That afternoon after the kids woke up I took them to the park so they could burn off some energy and I could just sit and think.  I was able to calm myself down enough to begin thinking clearly of a new plan for the summer.  I had two sets of family I could go visit and wonderful friends and neighbors to spend time with when I was at home.  Hopefully people would come visit me too, and I could always hire a babysitter weekly so I could get out of the house on my own for a few hours.  I knew the best thing to do was to surround myself with as many people as possible as often as possible.  If I could just get through the summer, the fall would be smooth sailing as both kids would be in preschool and I would get a much needed break in the mornings.  Basically, it all boiled down to the fact that there was nothing I could do to change our circumstances, and I knew that I would get through it somehow.
                As I write this now, one year after that fateful phone call, I am humbled by and amazed at how short a year really is.  Not only is Randall home again, but he has been home for three months and from the moment he stepped back into the house it was as though he never left.  I admit that I did not have a positive attitude for the majority of this deployment.  I was very bitter most of the time and felt like it was never going to end.  But, just as a mother forgets the pains of labor as soon as her baby is born, I forgot about the pain and bitterness that had taken over my heart as soon as our family was again complete.  Looking back on those eight months, I realize that despite my bitterness I was somehow able to accomplish exactly what I needed to do to get through it.  I learned that someone else’s grass is always greener, but somewhere else another person’s grass is much worse and I decided to be thankful for my blessings.  For as many things about the deployment that I didn’t like, there were twice as many things that made it okay, the most wonderful one being that my husband came home.  No deployment is easy, and the feelings and emotions that a spouse experiences throughout those long months are by all means justifiable.  But a year is short.  It may not always feel like it, but time will pass and the deployment will end.  When it does, we will look at our spouses sitting next to us, glass of wine in hand, and smile with pride at the great obstacle we were able to accomplish together. 
Picture by Julie Stone Photography

1 comment:

  1. I just went through that all over again - very nicely written. I'm so glad things are great now that you are reunited. Things are really good for us too, but this deployment was a game changer. Very, very hard. I'm still processing. Miss you, girl.