Elijah and I spent most of our relationship doing long distance. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted and I thought it would make the army wife life a lot easier for me but boy was I wrong. When we finally lived together we managed to get away with him not getting deployed for more than two years. He is an infantry soldier so this was a great blessing.
When our time finally came, I found myself crying in the weeks leading up to his departure. It didn’t help that he was away on course for the last few weeks. Sometimes I wonder what the army actually thinks when creating their schedules or if they even think about it at all *rolls eyes*.
So much emotion was arising so we saw ourselves fighting during his last days even up to his last few hours. His pick up was at 1.30am, I had fallen off to sleep and got woken up for his goodbye. I hugged him so tight and balled my eyes out. When the car left, I felt like I got hit by a bus. The reality of the army wife set in. For half a year, it would just be me in this home, on my own.
I kept waking up in a panic, touching his side of the bed and then the tears would start again. I didn’t to want to get out of bed. There seemed to be no reason to get up. No reason to cook lunch, no Sunday walks that we usually did. I did need to pee though, so that’s the only reason I got up.
Something insightful kept bothering me about all this. I was a child of a soldier, my father went away A LOT. Fiji army deployments are a lot longer but I never saw my mum the way I was. A lot of my friends are army wives but I never saw this. I was a bit angry that no one really told me the raw truth of what this life meant. I wondered if I would still choose to marry a soldier if I had known. I questioned the point of being married if he was just going to go away? Then I realised woman just get on with it. The ones with kids probably didn’t have the option of moping around the house and not getting out of bed.
On that same Sunday, I got a voicemail from the hospital. I have been awaiting a surgery and they had an update. This was a reminder of our fertility struggles and I sat there wishing we had a child so I didn’t feel so lonely and our home wouldn’t be so quiet.
I’ve learned to love myself and others so deeply so when it hurts, it hurts just as deep. There is no courage and love without vulnerability. All the heartbreak I was feeling was evidence that I loved my husband deeply. He can be a f*!ken nuisance but his heart and who he is makes all this worth it. The army has its perks but it comes with a heavy price. On our wedding day, I promised to choose him even when it got hard so today I thank God for him and all the experiences that I grow through.
Thankfully, I have a great community of very supportive people who are making this time a lot easier to bear. I am in a much better place today and doing work that I love and am passionate about is keeping me occupied and happy.
To the unsung heroes, the ones behind the scenes holding it down for your families when your spouses/partners get deployed - thank you. Our work easily gets hidden by the heroic uniforms but I see you, I feel you and hope to be better at being there for you.