The Day of the Deployed is always a bittersweet remembrance for me because my husband has deployed several times. While I am so grateful he isn’t deployed today, I know that thousands of spouses still wait, life on perpetual pause, hoping their spouses return safely.
I never know how to summarize the experience of deployment for those outside this military community because it’s such a complex experience.
We miss them as husbands, and we miss them as friends. We miss help with baths, bedtimes, homework, housework. While we struggle with anxiety and fear, we simultaneously live for every phone call or email and struggle to live at all.
It’s this terrible balancing act I felt weighing on my heart today. We have to live and find things to live for, not just countdown the deployment.
I can’t press pause on an entire year.
We’ve got to live those months or years they are gone, but . . . we want to freeze time, we don’t want that year of living to pass them by, but we can’t let it pass us by either.Deployments are a terrible balancing act of waiting and finding the strength to keep living. Click To Tweet
So today I’m sharing portions of my army wife diary posts from this date in 2010, which, coincidentally, deal exactly with this complicated tightrope act.
“Today (Oct. 2010) I was tired, but I had a choice what attitude I would have. The past week or two, I have just been counting days, struggling against the world, but have I been living?
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” -Thoreau
Can I spend 365 days just waiting for him to come home?
I don’t want to get to the end of this year to discover I have not lived.
During my first experiences with a military man, distance and separation, I wrote this poem about living in a hurry to get to a much anticipated future.
Fools’ Luxury by Jennifer DeFrates Three minutes before heading home, striding purposely, laying out the evening at hand, I passed a quiet man, gray and lined silently sweeping piles of dust and off-handed debris from ancient tiles pooled with afternoon sun. Wish it was Friday – I answered his casual query Why, he said – giving me internal pause – Why would you wish days of your life away? Too busy to stop, I flippantly shrugged And carried on But his simple wisdom rippled inside Reverberating against my arrogance of immortality. Why were these Wednesday hours less precious? Where was my Thursday guarantee? In an epiphany flash, I wondered How long I’d been always looking to the next finish line – Friday June next Christmas – How long ignoring my life, Continuously waiting to live it, Procrastinated dreams growing dimmer, Days I’d let fall into dilapidation Instead of carefully constructing each minute. Time is fools’ luxury. Those with no more would chide, if they could, Would remind that Thoreau at his pond had it right. Too many meet death without knowing life Failing to embrace its falling seconds. So this Wednesday I sit And soak in cut grass and dampened dirt Shivering in Winter’s dying wind and try to teach myself To walk the tightrope Between looking toward tomorrow While remembering to see today.
Am I so focused on the end of this deployment, that I’m missing right now?
Today (2010), I ran late for my doctor’s appointment, then waited for an hour just to get into the exam room. After two minutes, he tells me I need to have two major surgeries. I can imagine the fun crutches will be with a baby.
An emergency trip to the grocery store took too long. When rushing to put away the groceries before picking up the baby, I shattered my coffee pot. So I had to make another trip to the store. Or go without coffee tomorrow. . . HA, yeah, right!
|Froggy Bottom Baby|
All these things went WRONG, and I came home smiling because I got to choose my response to these situations.
I choose joy.
I choose to live right now, even as it’s hard. It’s hard to truly enjoy the moments he is missing, but I know refusing to be joyful won’t give him back those times.
So, I danced and sang and played with my daughter, making her giggle over and over, reveling in her sweet baby laughter.
I could have spent this afternoon moping and sad and scared and frustrated, but what was that attitude going to solve? Nothing.
Worrying and waiting for my husband’s return isn’t going to solve anything either.Attitude may be the most powerful choice we ever have in this military life. #DayoftheDeployed Click To Tweet
We struggle with trying to fill our days, keeping mindlessly busy, trying to stop the mental cycle of anxiety and stress, holding our collective breath as we wait for our soldiers to come home.
However, that isn’t living.
None of us want to realize that we have not lived, but sometimes it’s hard to find a way to live deliberately when now is painful.
Find one thing to smile about and hold onto it as long as you can.
Crying will happen, it is part of this army wife life, just don’t let it be what fills your time until tomorrow.
That Day of the Deployed was five years ago,
and the last one I personally experienced with a spouse in harm’s way.
We tumbled through deployments tied to cell phones and Skype, just trying to find our footing.
I, like many military spouses, had to master trying to find the delicate balance of waiting for them and living in the present.
Save that new action movie, wait to try the new sushi place, but have joy in the life we have now, instead of just impatiently waiting for tomorrow. Life doesn’t stop for hard, neither should we.