TITLE: 52 Weeks
By Tanya Chowen
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There are 52 weeks in a year and during a deployment there are still 52 weeks in a year. But this year it seems those weeks will go on and on never reaching the end. The countdown begins once we say our good-byes.
At first the weeks are busy with adjusting to life without him. This is never easy because we do or say things without thinking like set an extra plate for dinner, or see his truck when we open the garage and say, “Daddy’s home”. There are constant reminders all around our home that shout out he is still a part of us but not with us. Even our golden retrievers express their sadness by standing at the windows looking out and waiting for their master who will not be coming. After several weeks of feeling that hollow ache inside, especially during those absent-minded times, we become more accepting of our situation we once again find ourselves in. Life does go on…..
Although we have accepted what our military lifestyle brings upon us there are still difficult weeks ahead. We are only 3 months into this deployment and the next 6 months are usually the hardest. It can vary depending on what part of the year the deployment begins. We aren’t really counting down anymore at this point because it has become exhausting to think about how much more we have to endure. The holidays are always challenging. Aside from the sheer fact that we are in a safe, warm, loving home and he is in the desert enduring some of the worst situations, there are traditions he and the children share. It is important to them to continue those even though they realize that it won’t be the same. These traditions bring their Daddy and them together even in his absence, which awakens happy memories of the years we have had together and gives them comfort. I do my best to fulfill their request, but it will never be what it is when he is
Please don’t misunderstand and think that a deployment only leaves us with sadness day in and day out. Each week that does pass by includes more laughter and enjoyment of our lives in spite of the circumstance. That is just the natural course our lives take with each deployment. Events, activities, and celebrations keep us busy and continue to bring joy, happiness, and memories…. memories that we can later share when he returns to us. But this is also a reminder that my husband, their Daddy isn’t here. He is missing all of these important moments in our lives and will miss many more before we see him again. We pray for his safety so we will see him again! There are so many families that never have that opportunity and my heart aches for them and I shake my head to rid my mind of the horrible thoughts of what if that happens to us. We do our best not to think of the unmentionable however, it creates underlying sadness, loneliness, frustration. It doesn’t matter that life must go on. We all miss him so much that there are times when we argue with each other simply because it is a way to release all of those emotions that make us feel so empty and at times scared that we will never see him again. We always work things out and again cling to the love that binds us together.
We realize that he needs us to hold on with all our might because that is what helps him hold on too.
We begin to count down again because there are only 3 more months to go. During this time there are also many emotions such as happiness, excitement, and anxiety. We can’t wait to see him because we love him so much and yet it is slightly unsettling because we worry that he has changed due to the stress he has been through. Once he has come home there is another adjustment period in which we must allow him time to return to his family at his own pace and put behind him the remnants of war. It could take 52 weeks for him to fully return to us and there will be mountains and valleys during the process. But no matter how long it takes I know that God was, is, and will always be with us and that is what brings me through it all!
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