This is my husband Andy – the man I love, the greatest father to my children, a sarcastic, quick-witted pain-and my best friend.
Today, my husband left again. AGAIN. This time, it was off to Afghanistan for 5-6 months – military time is never constant and can change instantly, so we always give a range of time. This is not new territory for Andy and for our family. He has been to Iraq three times, each one of those deployments lasting 4-6 months, and to South Korea twice, each of those lasting 12-15 months. He has been on so many training trips, aka TDYs, that I cannot begin to keep track. Those range from a few days to over a month. In the ten years we have been together, we have been apart for around half of that. Yes, I have done the math, and it surprises me every time.
Regardless of our vetted history, this time was different. The goodbyes are always hard, but this one was especially rough. Maybe it was because he is going somewhere that we have not experienced yet, so it is scary and unfamiliar. Maybe it is because our girls are getting older, so they know what this goodbye entails and how long the time really is now. Maybe it is because we have done this so many times and contrary to what we tell ourselves, it does not get any easier. Or maybe, and this is what scared me the most, it was the fact that my husband truly did not want to leave this time. He never likes leaving and hates being gone, but when it comes to the goodbye, he is always the strong one. He is able to leave with his head up, confident in his mission and happy to be doing his job, despite the separation. This time, he dreaded leaving. He packed slowly and complained the entire time. He could barely get enough time with the girls. He kept telling me how much he did not want to leave this time, that he misses us and our lives too much and is scared that someday, the girls and I are going tire of his absence. And he cried. He would kill me for writing that, but he did. He has never cried when he left, and that was the moment that I saw how much this goodbye and this deployment will be a challenge for him. He is always the strong one for me – this time, I had to be strong for him too. Anyone who has seen me when my husband leaves know that this is impossible, since I spend the day alternately crying and eating chocolate.
As I said, the time apart is not new for us. However, this time apart – Andy in a different place, the four of us in a foreign country trying to be normal – will be challenging and a learning experience. We both knew that as long as he was in the military and in this career that the separations would continue, and we chose to live this life. Despite this, it really does not get any easier. For now, the girls and I start counting down the days, we take the opportunities that technology gives us to talk to him, and we remain proud of this man who takes care of us and his country, even when it is so difficult for him. I often cannot describe just how much I love this man because words are not enough – I just hope that one life together, even when apart, is enough.