Sunday, July 20, 2014

then & now

When I think about this time last year, two words come to mind: excitement and fear. I was newly married and living in a new state, where I knew no one other than my husband. The newness excited me and I loved the adventure of the unknown. Dan and I were in this together, and that alone gave me confidence and joy as we began figuring out marriage and establishing roots in Virginia. Yet, it was all overshadowed by the fear I had about Dan's deployment.

I remember one night we had dinner on our front porch. Everything was fine and normal, until I let the thought of his deployment cross my mind. I immediately started crying. Just the thought of it was enough to fill me with anxiety and dread. How would I cope without him here? Would I be completely miserable? Surely I would be. I couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like without my husband for eight months. The fear overwhelmed me to the point that we started avoiding the topic. I simply couldn't handle it.

Eventually, I had to face this fear. Dan's ship began going underway for weeks at a time over the next few months. I knew it would be so easy to let myself wallow in my loneliness, but I also knew I couldn't do that. I knew that I would cause more heartache than was necessary. I knew that I needed to be strong. I began figuring out this new aspect of marriage that I had never envisioned being a part of my life, long-distance marriage. I began accepting the inevitable and chose to face this deployment head on, rather than letting it have such power over me. The fear of Dan's deployment didn't disappear though; it most certainly loomed over me. I remember thinking to myself while he was underway that there was no way I could ever do this for eight months.

The new year crept up on us, and the dreaded day was quickly approaching. At this point, I felt like I had exhausted my emotions trying to prepare for it. I knew he was leaving in just a month, but I didn't want to dwell on it, so I didn't. We decided to just enjoy our time together. The everyday parts of marriage became so important and special to me, and I began to view our time together as a gift. I tried to soak it all in as much as possible.

The day before he deployed, we celebrated Valentine's Day early. It was a blissful day full of only good memories. Neither of us let our focus drift to deployment. It was such a blessing. That night I fell asleep in his arms, as I tried to choke back tears. I so wanted to be strong. I wanted to enjoy our last few hours together and not let this fear overshadow it. We woke up the next morning, loaded up his belongings, and headed to breakfast. We talked lightheartedly about this new adventure he was about to embark on. We kept things upbeat.

Then we got to the base. Everything felt so real now. The ship was full of sailors and their families saying their goodbyes. You could feel the excitement and the fear. I did everything I could to fight back tears and smile at the people I knew, but all I wanted to do was break down. Dan and I headed to his bunk and sat on his couch for the next hour, not wanting to say goodbye but not wanting to live another second of this. It was torture. The time eventually came and we headed back to the car to say our final goodbye. I sobbed the whole way home, not quite sure what to do with myself. The next few hours were a blur. It was by far one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Four hours later, I headed back to the base to watch the ship sail away. I spotted Dan amidst the sailors lining the deck and waved and blew kisses until he became a tiny dot in the distance. When I couldn't see the ship from the pier anymore, I got in my car and drove to the last pier on base that overlooks the Chesapeake Bay. I kept my eyes fixated on Dan's ship, knowing that as soon as it was out of sight, I wouldn't see it again for eight months. I wouldn't see my husband for eight months.

Now, almost six months have passed since he deployed. The day he left was by far the worst of it, with the anticipation of deployment being close behind. The anticipation was so bad because I let the fear of it overwhelm me. This big fear I let weigh me down for the first eight months of my marriage hasn't been as scary as I thought it would be. Actually living out deployment, has been, in a sense, much easier than I ever thought possible. Yes, it's hard at times and I wish with all my heart that my husband was home, but it isn't horribly miserable.  I've been surrounded by love and support. I've adjusted to this new normal and see things from a different perspective. I've learned that there should be a healthy balance between dependence on your spouse and independence, that my ultimate dependence should be in Christ, not Dan. I've learned to be thankful for this time of growth, but i'm also thankful that this is only temporary.


  1. I know we've talked about this a little already, but I can't tell you how refreshing this is to read and know and be able to tuck away in the back of my mind for when my time comes. These little pieces of your story make it seem so much more manageable and knowing you has made me feel worlds better about a lot of things. I love your blog sister!

  2. Crying as I read . . . and you've been through so much since he left. I'm so proud of you and the way that you have handled it all. Looking forward to hanging out with you soon!