Being away from the one you love is hard but seeing your daughter constantly looking for him is even harder. My daughter used to point at every guy in uniform in the mall or in the stores asking if that was daddy over there. It literally broke my heart when I had to keep telling her that daddy is working and will be home soon enough. She would knock on the door to our room calling him with hopes that he will open the door. Sometimes she will even go to the garage door and call for him. After several months she finally stopped looking and got used to seeing her daddy on a screen. It then turned to, “Let’s Skype with daddy.” or “Call daddy.” or even her not letting go of my phone just so she can see him. During deployment she was only about 9 months when he left and this was her the whole time. I had to find ways to keep our minds busy. Keeping her entertained with different activities but even going to the park and seeing other families with their dads was hard for us both.
During times like these is when you need to keep yourself busy. The more time you have on your hands the more your mind wonders and worries about him and how he is doing. If he is okay? When will he call? Will he come home? Will they keep him longer? All these questions go through your mind. You may think some are harsh but knowing he is in a war zone all kinds of questions and worries go through your mind. This is why you have to keep your mind busy with other things.
I decided to keep studying for Pre-Veterinary Medicine as well as selling jewelry on the side. I also got a part time job at a local Animal Hospital close to my university to get experience. During the summer break I decided to take on an internship at Walden’s Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to learn more and have something to do that I enjoyed. I also took a few online classes during the summer. All this while still making time for my daughter and taking her out to parks, walks, and even camping and kayaking trips. We also visited family, which was harder then what I thought it was going to be. People were always asking how he was doing? When will he be back? How we are holding up? I know they just want to help and be there for us but when you leave your place to escape the desperation of grief and just want to think of something else other then what is driving you crazy and run into these questions it can get hard. I just answered nicely and tried to not let it get to me but Bella will sometimes ask the same questions in hopes of an answer as well cause she had heard someone, somewhere ask the same question.
Times like these can be so hard on kids but it also makes you as a mom and a wife stronger. This time apart from your husband can either destroy your marriage or bring you both closer then ever before. It all depends on what you do with it. This is the time that they need you the most. They need your love and support more then ever. When they can finally call or video chat is like there way to get a little piece of home and happiness to help them get through another few days or even weeks of hardship. This is your time to show them how much you really care for them and how strong you really are. That you are willing to wait months for his homecoming.
Something that kept all three of us going was care packages. Bella and I loved going out to the store and buying him tons of goodies to mail out to him. She would pick out batman stuff for him and make him little cards and coloring pages that she had colored for him to put in his care package. I would send him pictures of us and letters along with a bunch of canned foods, candy, and anything that I knew he liked to eat and munch on. I even sent him an espresso machine and espresso so he can have coffee to drink while he’s out there. I know that every care package he received meant the world to him and helped him keep going and thrive to come home safe and sound. Seeing his baby girl waiting for him always pushed him a little more each day.
After 10 very long months the day we all had been waiting for had finally arrived. We were finally going to see our soldier, our hero, my husband, and her father. During this time away he had missed her first birthday, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even his own birthday (and many other birthdays). We were all finally getting the day to finally hug him again and make the best of the next holidays to make up for all the good times we missed.
Before he arrived I decided to fix up the house very nice, order a cake, get his family and my family together for the big day. I even ordered a sign to hang up on our garage door for when he got home. I even made matching batman shirts to go pick him up. I didn’t wear mines though cause I wanted to look pretty for him. I also got Bella a cute “Homecoming” outfit that I had purchased off of Etsy. I was so excited to finally see him that I cried of joy almost that whole week before he arrived. I was an emotional wreck. I almost even cried on the bus on our way to the hanger where they were going to hold the ceremony. There’s no words to describe the excitement that we all had. I was just happy that his family was there as well to receive him with open arms.
I remember waiting desperately by the fence to see the airplane arrive. Waiting to see them get off and running over to the other end where they were walking in to the hanger to form up. I kept taking pictures of him desperately waiting to go hug him. We went inside to see the short ceremony and wait for them to be released to their families. The minute they were dismissed I ran down the bleachers with Bella and put her on the floor so she can be the first one to go to her daddy and give him a hug. She immediately recognized him and ran up to him. I think that first hug made us all cry. Just seeing a father and a daughter hug for the first time after many months of being away from each other is heart touching. That moment when your daughter sees him with glowing eyes and amazement with that look on her face like daddy, your home, without saying a single word. I then couldn’t hold myself much longer and had to go at least touch his arm. I couldn’t believe it that he was home. He was really home. I thought this day would never come. It literally felt like an eternity. I finally gave him a hug and a kiss and I didn’t want to let go for anything in the world but I knew I had too cause his family felt the same way. We all did. We all kind of wanted to hog him to ourselves. Just hold him and love him cause it had been so long since the last time we were able to do so. Saying goodbye or see you later was the hardest thing in the world and being able to hold him again, once more and knowing that he is safe and sound back on US soil is by far one of the best feelings in the world.
I don’t wish a deployment on anyone. I rather have a training over a deployment any day. I don’t care about the extra money that we get during this time of hardship or the extra incentives. Money can’t buy the time you loss with your loved one. Money will never give you that time again or extra holidays to compensate for all the ones that were missed. Money is just money. There’s nothing more important then family.
Despite the hardships I have to say that I am proud of my husband and all of his accomplishments in his Army career. It hasn’t been easy on any of us but with strong will and determination and a lot of sacrifices he has managed to get far in his military career and overcome many many obstacles throughout the way. The military lifestyle has helped us grow as a family to be stronger and to appreciate each other more. To be able to always cherish moments together even if it’s just at home watching TV or a beach day or even just a minute or two on the phone or video chat. Every month, day, week we spend away from each other helps me realize why I give up so much for him. Because he is a hero. Not just a hero for our country but a hero for our family. He’s MY HERO and I love him with all my heart and will continue to support him and stand by his side no matter what the Army life continues to throw our way.
The Day He Left
His Homecoming – Ft. Campbell, KY
HAPPY MILITARY FAMILY APPRECIATION MONTH!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.