It came unexpectedly in a very expected way. Three days after my husband completed his training and being four months pregnant with our second child, he got the call that he was going to be deployed to Iraq for one year.
When I started on this journey of being the spouse of a deployed soldier I was nervous and scared, but I soon found that I was stronger and more independent than I thought I was.
I never thought of myself as a weak person, but everything I ever thought of myself was tested the day Steve stepped on the plane to take him around the world to a war torn country. I was a few months away from having our second son. I did what most girls do, I cried. I cried at the thought of being alone, and I cried for the things he was going to miss. Crying was not going to change the situation so after I finished my carton of ice cream I got to work on the job of holding down our home front. I knew that my attitude would set the tone for his deployment, so I made sure to speak only positively of the military to others. Yes, it is hard that he is gone, yes it is sad that he is missing the birth of our son, yes I do get lonely, but this is what he, and by extension, I, signed up for. We were sacrificing so others did not have to.
It would have been easy to be sad all the time but that is just not me. I found a quote that really helped and I used it as my motto for the year that he was gone. "In times like this we question our own strength. Our ability to hang on and not crumble, it's one of the things I admire most about the army wives I've met. This capacity to press on through the obstacles, to see the mission through to completion." I am not sure where I heard this, but it is what I feel. Being an army wife has taught me to look past my own life. There is always someone else in need, and I did not need to look any farther than my feet, and the eyes of my little ones starting up at me.
I was one of the "lucky wives", my husband trusted me with the bank account and so I learned to budget money well. As a coming home present, and with Power of Attorney, I bought us a house. It was a major purchase and I did it with toddler in a stroller and a baby on my hip.
When Tommy, our second son, was born, James was only 15 months and still needed a lot of help. That did not stop me from going and doing normal family things even without a spouse. I usually got two different kinds of looks from people, the look of “how-does-she-do-it” and the look of “boy-I-feel-sorry-for-her”. At first, I felt like I had to explain myself and my situation. As time went on, the looks bothered me less. They did not know why I was always by myself, but I knew and I was proud of my husband.
There were times that I envied people whose husbands had normal jobs, who came home every night, who are there for the events in life, but when I said 'yes' to Steve deep down I knew I was in for a ride. What I learned from that year that he was gone has helped me grow into the woman I am. I am very independent, and I know that I do not ever want to live without my husband, but I can. I am not afraid of change, and I can take life as it comes and I have found joy in this journey.