It’s hard to put into words…the gut-wrenching feeling that you have when you watch them board that plane. For those that have been through it….you know…
There are feelings of relief that the journey has begun. The months of preparing are over. The gear and duffel bags that have been laid out across the bedroom floor for weeks (or months!) are now gone. The anticipation is over and you can now focus on counting the days until his return instead of dreading the days until they leave.
There are feelings of hurt, especially for your children. They can’t quite comprehend, but you know that they know the pain that you feel, too. You want them to always keep Daddy in the front of their minds over the months to come, but you dread hearing the words “I miss Daddy”, because it shows that they are hurting. You pray that this experience doesn’t cause them to act out or change in any way and you do everything in your power to keep routines the same and make them comfortable. Tears flow from both of you when your 4 year old asks to hear the “wooo woooo song” on the way to the airport. It’s “mine and daddy’s song” that they have danced along to in the kitchen too many times to count. You think that she doesn’t get it, but she knows…
We have grown so much in 10 years of marriage. As he says, “we are probably more in love now than the last time we had to endure this”. I couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing how time apart can bring you so much closer. You appreciate the small stuff. You don’t get wrapped up around the petty things. The toilet seat can stay up, he can leave laundry on the floor and you don’t care because you are just thankful that they are present. You live in the moment and you appreciate each minute that you do get to spend with them. You make it a priority to have date nights because you know how important it is to have the time to focus on yourselves.
It’s no longer about having to deal with everything while he’s away…the house, the car, the kids, working full-time, the cooking, the shopping, the washer that will likely find its way to break in the next 9 months…that’s just life.
It’s about having to go through the daily routine without your best friend beside you. The kids’ giggles, their excitement when they learn something new, the impromptu Nerf wars, conversation around the dinner table, dance parties, relaxing after a long day, the first day of school, birthdays, holidays, the hugs, and the kisses goodnight. You are thankful for technology and the ability to see their face in real-time on Sunday afternoons while you’re preparing for the week, but it just doesn’t compare.
You don’t resent them for leaving. They are doing a job that they love. It’s what they’ve trained for. To be honest, you carry their pain on your shoulders also because they have it worse than you do. They are in a foreign land away from everything familiar. There are times that they fear for their life and wonder if they’ll return. They can’t hop in a car to drive to visit family, enjoy the luxury of a king-sized bed or have the joy of cleaning up children’s messes. They have to rely on text messages, care packages and the occasional FaceTime call to connect with life back home.
Time heals everything. No matter how much you miss them, you still regain the power to take on each day just as before. You know that each day gets a little easier and with each day that passes, it’s one day closer to wrapping your arms around them. You go through your days and learn to live life without them for awhile. You never wish for life to fly by, but there are times when you wish that it was one big dream and you could just wake up 3 seasons later.
So today, it’s okay if you feel like you’ve been hit by a freight train. You may feel like letting your kids have candy for dinner and downing a whole pint of ice cream. You know that tomorrow the sun will rise and it will be a new day. Things will be better. Give yourself some time and forgive yourself for taking a knee for a few days. With each passing day, you see a little more sunshine peeking out from behind the clouds and know that you can do this! You get a little tired of people saying how “strong” you are for going through this and they “don’t know how you do it”. There are days that you don’t even know how you do it, but you do. Remember that you ARE strong and capable of anything that is thrown at you.
More than anything, you feel fortunate that you have someone so special to miss so much. You know that happier days are coming and you will be a stronger couple and family for all that you have endured. The happy trip to the airport will be here before you know it.