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Day of the Deployed – Saying Goodbye

I don't know what it is like to be deployed. I just know what it is like to say good-bye and be left behind. Day of the Deployed - Heaven Not Harvard(Last Updated On: October 26, 2017)

Today is Oct. 26 – the 11th annual Day of the Deployed, a day to remember the sacrifices of all the service members deployed around the world. Perhaps, also a day to remember the families left behind as well.

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I don’t know what it is like to be deployed. I only know what it is like to say goodbye and be left behind: the heaviness in my chest, the knot in my stomach, the steely resolve, and the tears hiding behind every smile.

I don't know what it is like to be deployed. I just know what it is like to say good-bye and be left behind. Day of the Deployed - Heaven Not Harvard

Below is my post from the day my husband last deployed, his fourth deployment, my third. Hopefully, our last, but we never know.

Day 365 – August 26, 2010

A very brief hour and a half after our middle of the night good-bye,  I drag myself out of bed, too focused on getting myself ready for the second day of school and getting my Lil Bit ready for daycare to allow myself any more tears. Somehow, I manage to get out the door only ten minutes behind my projection, but I am running on autopilot.

I have rediscovered an appendage, my cell phone. I have an iPhone, so I am extremely attached to it anyways; it practically does the laundry! But now I have to reprogram myself to carry it everywhere. I never know when my husband will call.

He is still on post, most likely drawing weapons and waiting for the bus to load and take them to their flight, but for all intents and purposes, he is gone. However, I do relish the fact that I can still text message him.

I send him a quick picture of the baby in her red, white and blue outfit for the day and hope it doesn’t break his heart. I could barely drag myself back to work after the summer.

How in the world can he just pick up and leave his children for a year at a time year after year after year?

He has two sons, eleven and twelve from his first marriage (now 18 and 19 in 2017). They have been through all three deployments. Last deployment his younger son really struggled with missing his father and feeling angry about it. I am already planning some new things to help Chad feel more present for them throughout the year.

They have daddy dolls, which seemed too childish, but I got one for each of them, and when they saw them and understood that daddy’s picture would go in them, they both grabbed them and carried the dolls around for the rest of the afternoon.

Last night, his older son called crying.

Chad tried to explain where he was going and that he would be back soon. Due to some developmental delays and autism, we don’t always know what he understands or feels. This was the first time we experienced him breaking down.

His sobs echoed out of the phone and broke like soap bubbles across my heart.

His mother, father and I were all surprised to hear him expressing such strong emotions. I wanted to hug him through the phone. Out of everything, I think this was the moment Chad understood he was really leaving again and had to fight back the tears himself.

So . . . I am thinking about all three of Chad’s children as I drop off Lil Bit at daycare and head to work. I am smiling, saying “hello” and “good morning” until my friend Liz asks me how I am.

There are moments that we can only manage in silence. Speaking the words is too much.

For a second, the dam cracks and tears rush in. I just shake my head. I am glad she is such a good friend that she immediately knew I couldn’t talk or even manage a hug without losing my carefully placed facade.

Around ten a text message says they are boarding, and I don’t know when I will hear from him again. They fly a few different patterns to Kuwait. He could stop in Newfoundland or Ireland or Maine before the final leg to Kuwait. But I don’t know, I might hear from him again in a few hours or not at all for many days.

As I text back one more I love you and be safe, I realize that my cell phone has to go everywhere with me again. It took me almost the whole year to get used to being able to leave it in one room and walk into another, and now I am tied to it again.

Later, I realized I had missed a call while making copies after school, driving home this lesson. I frantically call back and call back. Even though I kissed him goodbye twelve hours ago, now every phone call, email, text message feels like the last one. The last call on American soil and I missed it . . .

.  .  . then he picks up. We have only a minute before I hear the boarding call in the background. I am just glad I got to say, “I love you” one more time. Now, it really begins, the wondering if and how we will both survive – on opposite sides of this deployment and the world.

Today, seven years later. I am watching him play with our daughter across the room. His uniform is different, but still says Army. By next year it won’t.

Physically, he’s been home for six years. Emotionally, he has only partially returned. But daily, we work hard to break through and reach across the walls each deployment built between us.

And our marriage is stronger than Army strong.

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21 thoughts on “Day of the Deployed – Saying Goodbye

  1. It’s hard to find words for life events like this. I’m all too familiar with the struggles of dad’s reintegrating with their families after deployment. I completely get what you mean when you say he’s only partially returned. Prayers for your family.

    1. Thank you! God is working but it takes time!

  2. Thank you and your husband for serving our country this way!

  3. wow I truly can’t imagine. Bless your heart!

  4. God bless you, and thank you to your whole family to your sacrifice and to your husband for standing up for his country. May God bring him home safe to you and may He keep you all safe here at home.

    1. Thank goodness this was five years ago. He came home safely!

  5. I can’t imagine the kind of strain that military families go through every time some is deployed.

    1. It is a big challenge and coming back together is even harder in some ways.

  6. What an incredible sharing. Thank you for telling your story, and for the sacrifices you, your husband, your family, and so many others make for strangers.


    1. Thank you. We take nothing for granted.

  7. Thanks for sharing! I take it for granted having my husband here every day.

    1. We all do. Even as a military wife, after a few years of his being home, we forget too. He worked 100 hours last week. I saw him one evening for two hours. The rest was dropping his lunchbox in the kitchen as he zombie walked to bed. Not as hard as deployed, but we’re ready for civilian life soon!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. Love your openness and honesty.

  9. I remember those days all to well. Because it was in the 1970’s we had no communication other than letters. (and only for the first month) He was a submariner, and his nuclear bomb carrying submarine was stationed in another country, so he always flew far away and was gone for about four months at a time – returning for three months.

    When his boat was underwater for three months at a time, there was no way to get in touch other than by me sending a “family gram” – like a telegram of about 16 words. We only got to send 3 or 4 of them a patrol. There was no way for either of us to know if we were dead or alive for the length of the deployment. He finally decided to get out of the military after 7 years because he couldn’t stand his kids being born or growing up without him.

    I so admire what those men do for their country, but also the families that stand behind them.

    1. Wow, that had to be so tremendously difficult both during and afterwards to reconnect as spouses. Marriage is hard enough without long silent breaks in the middle! Thank you both for your service, I was just a baby, but I understand the sacrifice is great. We are hoping to be finished with our military service in a few years.

  10. I had no idea there was a day dedicated to the deployed! Thank you for enlightening me. I am so thankful for all the men and women who serve. A big thank you to your husband for serving! And a big thank you to you for holding down the fort while he was gone!

    1. I just learned about it last year after he had been home for three years. I am really hopeful that he doesn’t have to deploy again ever!

  11. Wow. So difficult to imagine. We are missionaries living near a military base and have many people we minister to whose hubby are deployed. Thanks for this emotional sharing.

    1. A great ministry would be a momma’s night out or other chances for moms to go to the dentist or grocery store alone. When you live far from family and your spouse deploys, it is hard to find a babysitter you trust.

  12. This really touched my heart. We live in a military community (although we aren’t military ourselves) and all around us, wives say goodbye to husbands, or husbands say goodbye to wives, or occasionally, kids say goodbye to both parents. It’s such a huge and noble sacrifice that each one of those families make. Thank you for YOUR sacrifice, as your husband serves his country.

    1. Thank you. It is a sacrifice for both spouses in different ways.

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