Laura and I met when I did my first 31 Day Series on Military Life. We quickly became friends and would have met up in person by now, if her husband had been stationed in San Diego instead of the East Coast. Someday soon it will happen. I asked her to share her deployment story for this last Spouse Spotlight because her husband seems to always be gone. To my surprise he has never deployed before. Her is her story.
When Amanda asked me if I would write a guest post for her series about deployments, I hesitated. I’ve been the spouse of a Marine nearly ten years, but I’ve shockingly my husband has never deployed before. She graciously said to write about it anyways.
College and flight school have made my husband ineligible for all deployments that his peers have been called up for; and that is not always the easy thing that it sounds. Both within our military community and from civilians without, the expectation of multiple deployments is high. For myself, there is always a constant emotional battle about it: relief that he’s stayed behind, guilt that others have gone, and even unwarranted shame, like we have done something wrong.
No longer will I say he has never deployed before
So when our family found out that my husband had been selected for a deployment next summer, there were a lot of other, new emotions. I am excited for him to finally be able to put into practice what he has been training for years to do, and to finally be able to experience a deployment, although, in case you’re wondering, it won’t be to a combat zone. It’s also a bit scary and overwhelming: six months feels like a long time to be on my own with three kids without my helpmate.
What would I do if a kid got sick?
What would I do if I got sick?
How will my kids handle six months of just mom?
But it’s not as though we have spent the last ten years constantly with each other. People are often surprised by how much time my husband spends away from home doing training. It’s usually a week here, two weeks there; last summer he spent ten weeks in the California desert. That’s nearly half of what a deployment will be right there.
Danger in Flying Even When at Home
And it’s not as though what he does stateside isn’t dangerous. It is. Being a pilot in the Marine Corps is a risk no matter if they’re home or abroad. Every time he gets into the cockpit, the danger is the same. The news is often filled with Marine Corps helicopters being involved in devastating accidents.
Every time the news comes that another aircraft has gone down, it has been devastating to our community, and to my own heart as the wife of a pilot; it is always a reminder of the danger that flying really is.
But our family still had yet to experience anything that resembled an actual deployment. Then the hurricanes came.
We have lived on the East Coast in hurricane country for nearly 5 years. Every summer we get the same warning, “this could be the year everyone has to evacuate. The Marines will have to fly out every bird and you spouses will be evacuating your families yourselves.” And every summer, there has been no mandatory evacuations, hardly even any storms to speak of. Until this summer.
Hurricane Relief Effort
When Harvey began to look threatening, my husband was away at training in California, and I had taken my children home for a visit. I kept asking if he would be expected to do relief work, as it’s often something that helicopter squadrons are called to do. But no, another squadron was called up. Then Irma started forming.
On Monday, my husband got a phone call that he would need to prepare to leave within the week. The few days were filled with laundry and last minute preparations, like making sure he had enough earplugs and Dramamine. And then his departure day was moved up and we dropped him off.
I am Stronger Than I Thought
For ten years, I’ve watched other women do this and wonder how I could do the same. Was I strong enough to kiss my husband goodbye and drive away with a minivan full of kids? Apparently, yes I was.
Even though this isn’t a “real” deployment, and hopefully by the time this blog is published, my husband will be home, the kids and I are learning a lot. I am learning what I can do on my own, and what I can’t. I am learning that, just like so many of the military spouses that have gone before me, I can do the thing I think I cannot do. Life doesn’t stop with a deployment, and I just get to live it, come what may.
Laura loves to share about her life as the wife of a active duty Marine and mama to three kids. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but now lives in the South on an adventure of a lifetime. Join her at https://www.instagram.com/aquietlifeblog/
Today is Day 28 of 31 Days of Deployment Series. If you missed a story you can see them all here. Yesterday I talked about Camp Arifijan, Kuwait. Tomorrow I will be sharing a story from a Pearl Harbor Survivor (my Great-Uncle Ray). Don’t miss a post. Join my weekly email list here.