You know how certain events on certain days you’ll never forget? December 11th, 2009 was one of those days.
It’s been exactly 8 months since Seth got orders to deploy. When he went to Germany, he was told his unit wasn’t deployable until after he was done in Germany. Of course I knew there was always the chance that this was likely to change, but I suppose I was in denial that he’d have to deploy yet again. (For the record, he wanted to deploy and he was sad when he learned that he likely wasn't going to deploy again). Thanks to Obama's surge in Afghanistan to send in 30,000 additional troops, Seth was one of the "lucky" ones....and I use that term very sarcastically.
He was coming home for leave in just a few days. We weren’t even engaged yet, yet we had already talked about getting married THIS summer, summer 2010. Thanks to his orders, that all changed.
It was December 11th, 2009, and I had just gotten to work. He usually called me around mid-morning when he got off of work, but this time, he called me at about 7:55 AM. I thought it was odd that he was calling so early. We said our hello’s, and this is how the conversation went:
Seth: are you sitting down?
Me: yeah, why?
Seth: just wondering. What are you doing?
Me: Just getting started on work. You’re calling early.
Seth: I have something to tell you.
Me: When are you deploying?
Seth: early spring time.
Somehow I just knew it was a deployment. It was the tone of his voice and how he was saying what he was saying. I could tell he didn’t really want to tell me, he knew I wouldn’t be too happy about it. I’ve always appreciated the fact that when he has not so great news for me, he just tells me. He doesn’t sugar coat it, he doesn’t beat around the bush, he just tells me. He could have waited a full 5 days to tell me in person, when he was home. But he chose to tell me over the phone. He knows I'm not a big fan of surprises (even though he LOVES surprising me) and this wasn't going to be a good surprise for me. I prefer to know things right away, especially something like this, so I can have more time to think about it and how much different things will be for me, for us. I’m glad he told me when he did. If he would have waited to tell me when he was home, and we were together, I’m guessing I would have been in a grumpy mood. To be honest, I think it would have put a damper on our holidays. My holidays, at least. At least when he told me, I had a few days to digest it and we were able to talk about it and it sank in (although it never REALLY sinks in until he actually deploys). When he was home, I tried not to dwell on it too much, but I couldn’t help but to think, “savor the holidays together, because it’ll be 2 years till we’re together for the holiday’s together again.” Everything we did, I thought, “I won’t get to do this with him next Christmas.” As much as we probably should have talked about the deployment, we didn’t. I didn’t want to be all sad about it; I wanted to have happy holiday memories with him and our families.
Honestly, prior to the conversation, we hadn't really talked about him deploying again in the recent months. If it was mentioned, it was that he wanted to deploy again but that wasn't likely for his unit. Matter of fact, the weekend before he got his orders, my mom had asked me if Obama’s surge had impacted (of would be impacting) Seth at all. I told her no, not that we’d heard of…yet.
This deployment was going to be different for me from the last one. We are engaged, and that played a big part of it. Also, it was the first whole one I'd have to go through...beginning to end. A full year. A lot happens in a whole year: four seasons, multiple holidays, another school year (for me), a deployment (for him), both of our birthdays. At least last deployment we met half way through, and he was settled into where he was going to be for the rest of the deployment. Communication was regular: phone calls, emails and IM'ing every single day. It was great. I think that deployment was a spoiler big time. The unknown of this one, the location where he was going, and the lack of communication and “amenities” (again, that term is used lightly) he was warned about, his job duties….they were not settling well with me. I was an emotional wreck leading up to the day he deployed. Hell, I was worse of an emotional wreck after he deployed.
This deployment HAS been different. It’s been rough. Rougher than I ever could have imagined. It started out really bad for me. We’re used to being physically apart – it doesn’t make it easier, but we’re used to it. What we’re not used to is the lack of phone calls and being able to talk. We would talk 3 or 4 times per day. On the weekends, we’d talk for a few hours sometimes (thank God for unlimited weekend cell phone use). Sometimes he’d go away for a training for a few days and the communication would be limited, but it was always a pretty short amount of time and the end of it was in sight, so I was OK for not talking to him for a day or two or three. This time, it sucked. We’d go for multiple days without talking. I couldn’t get my phone card to work, so I’d have to wait patiently for him to call me. He was always faithful in calling me within a 2 hour time period on Sundays. That was our one big conversation for the week. I was lucky to get an email or two throughout the week but they were pretty s hort. I was always appreciative when he called me. Occasionally we’d send a text message here or there. But to hear his voice only once a week sucked so hardcore. It was not pleasant. I wish I could say I was the strong girl who made it through easily. But I would totally be lying. I cried myself to sleep frequently, and I really think I went through a mini-depressive state. I pretty much hated everything, everyone pissed me off, and I didn’t do anything fun. I’d go home after work and just do nothing. I didn’t go to the gym, I didn’t go out, I did nothing except watch TV. I really thought I was going crazy. I'm surprised I never snapped. I really felt like I was close. I came close to making an appointment with a crazy doctor. I cried each and every time our phone call was about to end...and then I cried after we hung up. I didn’t like crying and he didn’t like me crying, but I couldn’t help it. The thought of not talking to him for another 7 days killed me. It was like this for a good month or so. I’ve never really admitted that to anyone, not even to Seth (perhaps he had an assumption, but I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want him to have to worry about me), but here it is in the blog world. For whatever reason, I really don’t know, I just snapped out of it. Honestly, I don’t know what it was. There wasn’t a defining moment, it just happened. I started going to the gym again, going out, laughing, and being myself again. It’s been much better since then. I don’t cry on the phone each time anymore, and actually I don’t know when the last time I cried was. I still miss him all the time, and I talk to his pictures, and we have a new phone routine: I call him on Wednesdays and he still calls me on Sundays, and we email each day and we chat on gmail each day. It’s been great.
Anyways, I don’t really know where I was going with this post, but I'm sure I veered off topic. I think my original intent was to blog about the feelings of him getting orders, but then I veered off into my emotions and how I was coping and all that. Sorry it ended up so long. Basically, hearing he got orders is a huge range of emotions and him actually deploying is an even bigger range of emotions, none of which were pleasant for me. I expected this, but I didn’t expect the extent of this. I tired to mentally prepare myself for the lack of communication and I totally failed. Nothing can prepare you enough for the feelings you'll feel when the love of your life deploys. Nothing.