23 August 2010

Deployment Sucks

For weeks, I’ve been trying to write a blog for a good friend of mine.  She’s going through her first deployment. I’m not sure why I’ve had such a hard time trying to find the words to write this blog, but I’ve had a few partial paragraphs saved… for far too long.
I finally came to the conclusion that all the things I’d written were insignificant. The bottom line is that it’s a completely difference experience for us all. Our guys have completely different jobs. I can tell her what it was like for me, but it doesn’t matter because I know enough to know that’s not what it will be like for her.
I can write all sorts of mundane things about how staying busy makes the time go by faster, etc, etc. But none of that really matters.
So, I deleted the paragraphs I’d written. Instead, I’m going to defer to some of my favorite quotes. I think sometimes, less really is more.

We often hear about the sacrifices soldiers make for their nation, but we rarely hear about their spouses’ struggles. Army Wives are bound by an unwritten code. They are expected to endure hardships with graciousness and tragedies with heads held high.
-- “Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives”

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.
“I have this theory that the more important and intimate the emotion, the fewer words are required to express it. For instance, in dating: ‘Will you go out with me?’ Six words. ‘I really care for you.’ Five words. ‘You matter to me.’ Four words. ‘I love you.’ Three words. ‘Marry me.’ Two words. So what’s left? What’s the one more important and intimate word you can ever say to somebody? It’s ‘goodbye.’”

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm, terrible. But they have never found these dangers sufficient enough to keep them ashore. –Vincent Van Gogh

Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It's for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It's for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don't see it nearly enough.

Missing someone isn’t about how long it’s been since you’ve seen them last, or the amount of time since you last talked. It’s about the very moment when you’re doing something and you wish that they were right there with you.

You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." --Christopher Robin.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

E, I think the world of you. Despite the fact that we’re on opposite schedules these days and have fallen out of touch, I still think of you and your family often. I know right now, this whole thing feels impossible and I know that nothing I say will really make it feel less so. Just know that I am ALWAYS here for you, no matter what, day or night.

16 July 2010

Being Wonder Woman isn't always what it's made out to be...

“Deep down, everyone wants to believe they can be hardcore. But being hardcore isn’t just about being tough. It’s about acceptance. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to not be hardcore for once. You don’t have to be tough every minute of every day. It’s okay to let your guard down. In fact, there are moments when it’s the best thing you can possibly do… As long as you choose your moments wisely.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel this enormous amount of pressure to appear to be perfect all the time. Like a superhero or something.
I think I’ve got the part down… I mow the grass, edge the driveway/sidewalk, pull weeds, take trash to the dump, clean the house, continue to have dinner parties and company over, visit friends. And all with a smile on my face [relatively speaking].
When friends ask, I smile and say things are great. And yes, he’s gone. Again.
And really, if I’m being honest, I work really hard to make it all seem so easy.

There’s nothing easy about being perfect. Being perfect sucks. Being perfect is 10 times the amount of work you might think.
Most days, I think I do a pretty bang up job of “having it all together”, at being hardcore. Most days, I feel pretty successful in my attempts. But not every day.
Every day, I give myself a pep talk over coffee. I tell myself it’s going to be a good day. I’m going to get a lot accomplished, even if I don’t really have anything pressing to do. I tell myself it’s going to be easy, no big thing… just get through it. It’s just one more day. And then I try to get on with my day, whatever that may actually consist of.

But here’s the thing… even Wonder Woman has a breaking point.
I can only take so many days of smiling and pretending it’s all great. Once I get through my allotted amount of days, I break. It’s really that simple. Something really simple and stupid will happen and I’ll dissolve into a puddle of tears. I do try and choose my moments wisely though. In line at the grocery store isn’t the place for a meltdown when you’re trying so hard to convince everyone that you can do it all and then some.

The job of being the person always left behind isn’t easy. It’s never easy. As much as I hate to quote Army Wives because I can’t stand that show, I caught a preview of an episode in my DVR’d episodes of Grey’s Anatomy  [;-)]… The woman says [in reference to a deployment]: “You never really get used to it, you just get through it.” I haven’t heard anything more true.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to dropping him off at the airport or watching him drive away knowing he won’t be home that night… but I always get through it. Each separation sucks all by itself whether it’s one week or 24 weeks.

“People ask me how I get through it… I just do. And some days I don’t. Some days I don’t get out of the bed because it’s just easier than trying to smile and convince everyone I’m okay.” At the end of the day, he’s worth it. And that’s really the only thing that matters. Because the truth is if I had it all to do over again, knowing everything that I know now, with the foresight of just how many nights I’d be crawling into bed alone… I’d still choose him.

So, for anyone else that’s going through a separation of any kind…. A TDY, deployment, field training…. It doesn’t matter, they all suck… I write this for you. Know that it’s okay to get upset, it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to wonder if you really can do it. It’s okay, because you can. If we didn’t have our moments of weakness, we’d lose the little pieces of us that make us able to love so wholeheartedly. Moments of weakness aren’t bad.

I once had someone tell me that I wasn’t tough enough to deal with his job, that I was going to get have get a lot tougher to make it through with him and his career. That comment came from one moment of weakness at the beginning of our first deployment. When I told the Mr., he agreed, which really pissed me off. But a couple months later, I had a full on meltdown while talking to him and then apologized saying he wasn’t supposed to see me fall apart. He told me it was his job to be there when I fell apart, even if he’s 8000 miles away. So I reminded him of the aforementioned conversation and how I was told to toughen up. He told me that being tough and being emotionless are two different things. That I was supposed to cry, but then I was supposed to take the time to understand the feelings I was having because that’s what makes you tough.

So, for anyone who’s ever been told to toughen up, that does not mean you’re not allowed to have moments of weakness. You’re entitled to them, really. Just choose your moments wisely and then learn from them. 

15 July 2010

Completely unrelated, but food is my second love...

I read on a blog I follow about a spice giveaway. Well, anyone who knows me will tell you I'm a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. I LOVE food and I LOVE to cook and/or bake. So, I thought I'd make a blog post and enter myself in the giveaway.

I looked through their list of spices and was really impressed with the selection. I couldn't pick just one. So I picked annatto because I make a lot of South American and Spanish dishes. The BBQ3000 because, being that it's summer time and I'm in the south, BBQ is something of a staple for big get togethers. I've done BBQ chicken a few times with a store bought sauce... and while it was good, it wasn't overly impressive. And las but not least, the lemon grass. I love trying new things... and I've never really been a big fan of Asian food, but lately I've stumbled across a few recipes that I'd like to try. But I never really been one for following recipes, I like to do my own thing, especially with spices and whatnot. 

Optional-  I use nutmeg and cinnamon in one of my favorite dishes.
Chop a gala apple and bosc pear. Sauté them with a little butter, just 3 to 4 minutes. Add a.... a good squirt of honey-sorry, I don't measure-maybe 2 good quarter sized dollops, a little cinnamon, a little nutmeg, just from one lemon and some minced thyme. Give it about 5 minutes on low to all mix together. I serve it with sautéd chicken and Camembert  mashed potatoes. 

29 June 2010

just a list

You'll never understand:
… the nights I spend alone.
… the feeling in the pit of my stomach before he deploys.
… the connection I feel when I meet or see someone in the military.
… how strong you are until they are deployed.

I hope you never have to:
... live with your phone on loud wondering if you are going to miss a call.
… wonder if someone is going to knock on your door with bad news.
… wait by the computer to get an email to know that he is alright.

I don’t understand how you can:
… take things for granted with your man.
… look at me and wonder why I am doing this.
… look at me and say that what I am going through is easy.
… complain if your man's phone doesn’t work.

I wish that you could:
… see the PRIDE I have for my man.
… see how HARD it is to watch them walk away.
 have seen the look on his face when he WALKED AWAY and how hard it was on him.
… LOVE someone with everything you have.

I would do anything:
… in the world to know that he is safe.
… in the world to bring all of our men and women home.
… to make you understand that they did choose to be over there.
… to help you understand it is OKAY to support our troops without supporting the war.

How can you:
… say that we choose this life?
… say that our men are less because of what they are doing over there?
… look at a family with a deployed family member and not feel their pain?
… look at a military member and not thank them?

17 June 2010

Death... and courage...

“At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate."

In the month of June alone, there have already been 42 deaths in Afghanistan, 24 of which were US soldiers and Marines. In the past week 6 of those deaths have affected two people very close to me. While I didn’t know any of them, I’ve found it very hard to get perspective on it all.

I never thought that the war was anything less than real. But it has always been at a distance. It’s not happening on U.S. soil. I haven’t lost any friends to it. No one close to me has really experienced the loss that makes war seem so horrific. Until last week.

Last week, my friend’s husband, lost 3 of his close friends to an IED. His wife is friends with their wives. Exactly a week later, the same friend’s husband lost his best friend to what is being called “hostile fire”.
Not knowing these men doesn’t make it any less sad.
For once, these fallen men aren’t just names on CNN’s casualty report. They’re friends of my friends. They BBQ’d with them on the weekends before the deployment. They spent time with them, got to know them. Watching my friend hurt and cry over the death of her friends’ husbands… It’s gut wrenching.

No one ever told me how I’d be affected when something like this happened. I don’t know any of the men or their wives. I’ve seen their faces on facebook and with articles about their deaths. But somehow, all of this has made the war so much more real to me.

I’ve always realized that death is a possibility because of the Mr.’s job. But somehow I was able to detach myself from that thought… until now. I’ve spent some time thinking, trying to understand what those women are going through, how I would react under the same circumstances and then feeling sick because of it. When I found out about the first casualties last week, I caught myself hugging the Mr. just a little bit tighter when he came home that afternoon. When I found out about the one this week… I’ve caught myself just staring at him, grateful to have him at home and then feeling guilty and so horrible because there are 6 wives who will never get to do that again.

I cannot imagine my life without him in it. So, I can’t even begin to fathom what those women are going through. How they’re even functioning at all. It breaks my heart.

So again, I’m saying thank you… to the soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors who have given their lives in service of our country and to the families they’ve left behind. 

"At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate."

11 June 2010

An Epiphany Not Worth Writing About

Epiphany sounds like such an optimistic word. Some great thing.
It’s really nothing more than a realization of something simple or commonplace. And life’s funny like that… The way things just happen or pop into our minds and the particular things that actually make us have those sudden realizations.

Sitting here this morning, sipping on coffee, catching up on my favorite show, I had an epiphany of my own. It wasn’t happy or optimistic or exciting. It was nothing like that. It was one that broke my heart and brought me to tears.

He’s a soldier. It’s not just what he does, it’s who he is.

I had a rough idea of what he did when we first met. I wasn’t going in blind. I knew and still chose to see where things would go. We had a pretty serious conversation about his job early on in our relationship. My eyes were opened to a lot. And yet, I still chose to stay. I learn something new about his world almost every day.

The clocks in my house read military time and I can speak in acronyms just as well as any soldier. I know more about the Army than some of my friends who have been married to it for years. I’m independent enough to endure all the separations. More often than not, I can do it with a smile on my face. And though I have moments of weakness and become far too emotional, I consider myself to be a strong individual.

Sitting here this morning, I realized that at this point in our short relationship, we’ve been apart more than we’ve actually been together.
I suppose the reality finally hit me…. This is going to be the next 15-20 years of my life.
I knew going in that he wanted a career in the Army.  I knew going in the type of job he had. I knew all this. But I didn’t really.

When he tells certain stories from past deployments, his face lights up. You can see in his eyes that his mind is back in whatever war destroyed city the story took place in. It’s like watching a child talk about their first trip to Disney World. And it’s heart breaking.

The man I love is in love with a job that’s going to kill him.

My greatest fear… and while I have so many fears that rank pretty high on the list… my greatest fear is losing him.

I’ve always thought I’d be alright without a man. That I didn’t NEED one to make me ok. That I didn’t NEED one to get through each day. And I really was just fine on my own… until he came along. I can handle TDY’s and deployments. But the thought of losing him actually takes my breath away and my heart physically ache.

I can’t make it without him.

What a stupid epiphany. And one not even worth writing about.


I'm taking a chance with this one. I wrote this a while back and decided that it's somehow fitting for right now. 
This past week I've talked to 2 friends, both of which told me about casualties to their husbands' units. My friends didn't lose their husbands, but they lost friends. Their husbands lost squad-mates. And yes, a few women have lost their husbands. 
While I don't know any of the soldiers who lost their lives, or their wives for that matter, my friends did and do. And that's enough. 
It's a little reminder that life is precious and shouldn't be taken for granted. When our men make their paychecks serving our country, they do it knowing that at some point they will have to put their lives on the line. 

Loving a man who serves in the military, this is a reality that we all have to acknowledge could be ours at some point. It's scary, makes me sick to my stomach to think about and just plain horrible. But that's the military life. 
And as horrible as the reality can be sometimes, it doesn't make me love him any less. If anything, it makes me love him more. 

Today, take a moment to pause and think about the men and women that give their lives for our country. --I know that was the point of Memorial Day, but I believe this is something that needs to be done often. Take a moment and think about the wives and unborn children who lost their soldiers this week. If you pray, then pray for them. 

Take an extra minute and hug your military man, tell him how much you appreciate him. Let him know how much you care. It's the smallest acts that often mean the most. 

01 June 2010

Memorial Day/The Final Inspection

I started writing this post yesterday and got distracted and ran out of time to finish. Better late than never, I suppose.

Today is a day set aside for us to take pause and remember those who have so bravely fought and given their lives for our country. Last year, I had the privilege of visiting Arlington National Cemetery with my soldier and one of his close friends. Walking around Arlington National Cemetery with soldiers in Class A's on either side of me... There really are no words to describes the many feelings that I experienced that day. I feel so blessed to have military people in my life that I do. I feel extremely lucky that I've never had to experience the pain and loss that so many families have.
Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays. It's an excuse to surround myself with all the amazing people in my life, but it's one holiday that is't just a "Hallmark Holiday". It's a day that calls for remembrance of the lives that have been given for our country. Being that the most important man in my life is a member of our Armed Forces, remembering what's been lost is extremely important to me because loss is a possibility that we face with every deployment. 

In honor of the fallen... I thought this poem was appropriate. 

"The Final Inspection"

The Soldier stood and faced God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as bright as his brass.

"Step forward you Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"

The Solider squared his shoulders and said
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't
Because those of us who carry guns
Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep.
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just to steep,

And I never passed a cry for help
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,
Lord, It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,
You've borne your burden well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."