The summer of 2006, when Jeremy and I first started to privately discuss the possibility of uprooting our whole life and little family to join the Army, we knew deployment was a guarantee for Jeremy. I clearly remember snuggling the not-quite-one-year-old Cooper and looking at Jeremy and telling him, you WILL miss one year of this child’s life, and chances are that by then we’ll have another child whose life you will also miss for one year. I remember asking him if he was prepared for that fact. Jeremy is an awesome Dad, it is one of the reasons I married him. I knew he would far exceed even my wildest expectations in that arena-and he has and still does. But he loves his kiddos so much and so deeply that I worried (and still do)how he would handle it.

I say that because I don’t want anyone to think that we joined the Army thinking we’d miss it: a deployment was a guarantee then and we’ve always known it. Still, it’s like knowing something yucky is coming in the future, but it is a long way off. You think, “eh, it’s a long way off…” and you place it somewhere in the back of your mind and heart.

Jeremy and I have done that for 2 years now, as I’m sure our family members and friends have also done to an extent. But the elephant in the room keeps on getting fatter. Rumors are flying around all over the place as we sit and wait for some real orders; you know, the kinds with DATES and stuff, to go off of and to use to plan this huge absence that will affect every area of our lives for an entire year. Our neighbors already have their orders that a deployment to Iraq is coming in September for them. (He’s only been home 9 months.)

I believe I’ve said here that the Colonel guessed sometime between June and August for our guys. However on the FRG Updates, everything kinda falls off the calendar starting in May. Rumors are pesky at this point. You wouldn’t think the Army would draw this out so much, but, they do. If you pay any attention to world news, you’ve already been told by the media that 5th Brigade, 2-Infantry Division (Jer’s unit) is going to Afghanistan this summer. I just wish they’d jump on the ball and tell us when on paper rather than via their best guess.

Regardless, it is coming. March is already like a blink in our eye. The calendar month is almost full for our family. April promises to do the same if Jeremy gets to take advantage of the block leave being offered and we head home to St. Louis for a few weeks. Trips like that always make things move quickly. May will be here before we know it.

Jer and I are nervous. I know I am feeling that sinking feeling, that sense of extreme urgency to get our “house” in order. We have so much we need to do administratively to prepare for this: update our Power of Attorney, create a Will, not to mention all the “what if” discussions we need to have. We have no idea whether we will be able to communicate with one another in any kind of frequency. In Iraq, the U.S. has been there so long that communication back home is pretty simple and can be as often as daily from what I am told. And while we have had a presence in Afghanistan even longer, it hasn’t been in the magnitude of Iraq, so technologically speaking the F.O.B.’s (Forward Operating Bases) aren’t as stacked with all the perks. What if I have an important question and need to run it by Jer and yet I can’t get a hold of him?

All this is vividly bringing back what it was like when Jeremy left for bootcamp and was gone for 3+ months. It sounds like a cakewalk now. 3 months? What was I complaining about then? Ha ha ha ha… I’m amazed at how much emotionally I have pushed back into the back of my brain and how this deployement is bringing all of it back again.

Right now, my daily heart-ache is for Cooper. I hate to say I’m holding back tears even thinking and writing this now. He tells me daily about how much he loves his daddy. He always tells him “I misseded you daddy” and is totally overjoyed when Jeremy returns home. I worry because Jer and Cooper have it easy now. We see Daddy 3 times A DAY! He goes to work at 5 something am, then comes home around 7 something am for a shower and some breakfast after PT. Then he’s gone at 9 am for class and back home at noon. Then back to class at 1:30 pm and home again by 4:30 pm. What a honey moon! Can you believe Cooper will tell me, in those short hours between seeing his daddy, how much he misses him? At lunch, he asks Jeremy if he gets to stay home now.

I find myself anxious to explain to Cooper what is coming, but he is 3-years old and still struggles with whether this is today, or tomorrow, whether this is lunch or dinner, and whether this is nap or night-night time. If he struggles with those time concepts (as every kid his age does no doubt) then how would he understand that daddy is leaving in a couple of months and he’ll be gone for a year? I know he won’t get it. I don’t get it!

Jer and I have been talking about it with each other and we just don’t think it’s right to tell Cooper now what is coming. I’m so afraid that he will lose it and not trust us now when things are normal.  But we do want to start laying some foundational thoughts in his heart and his mind. So we’ve started by just reminding Cooper that whenever mommy or daddy goes away, we ALWAYS come back. We’ve even got him reciting it to us so that when he sees us leaving we say to him, “ok, but what happens when mommy or daddy goes away?” and he’ll say, “you always come back”. And we’ve even told him that it doesn’t matter how long we’ll be gone, we always come back.

I hate that I know this huge thing that is going to break my little man’s heart and I can’t tell him in a way he’ll understand. So this, this is where we’ve started. I’m so concerned about my little Cooper. He and Daddy are so close that I just don’t know about all this. Lots of prayer is the answer.

In addition to that, we have a lot of things we need to figure out concerning Coop. He is turning 4 this summer and the kid is smart as a whip. He is a total social butterfly and I think he is very ready for preschool. In fact, he probably would have benefitted from it this year. But as with many things in his life, mommy wasn’t ready for that yet. 🙂 This fall, he needs it though-without a doubt. But if I enroll him in school, then what do I do when I want to go to St. Louis for a family-pick-me-up? I worry about what the shift will do to him.

I know kids are resilient and they can roll with the punches pretty well. But I don’t want to deal him any unnecessary blows, you know? When we were home at Christmas time he kept telling us he missed “his Washington” and his bed and his room. I hope that was because he was incredibly sick at the time. But what if it wasn’t? As a kid I always had a hard time being away from home. I got really home sick well into my teens.

I am starting to count the weekends we have left together too as the calendar ticks down. Right now, we have 12 weekends until the first week in June. So if you sense me getting stingy with my time…that’s probably why. I may start to hoard my family and my hubby. 😀

I hate that this is coming. It’s like being shackled to a set of train tracks while a bullet train heads your direction. You can see it snaking through the mountains ahead, you can hear the far off distant blare of the horn as it makes its way towards you. It still is a long way off but it’s ever coming toward you. Yet, you are helpless to escape its path. Hope that doesn’t sound too morbid for you guys! It’s just scary.

In my heart, I know we’ll be ok. I do have a peace that can only be from the Lord, a peace that tells me Jeremy will be ok and so will we. This is just one little part in our journey. Back when I was in college, I attended several conferences, leadership courses etc. with Campus Crusade for Christ. One element always present was a reminder that as Christians, we have an “eternal perspective” on life (or we really should anyway). If you are working off of an eternal perspective, the colors of things that come your way are drastically changed. This is the same thing-if I view this coming one year from an eternal perspective, it is but a blip in space, a speck in time. This is me counceling myself…ha ha ha ha ha!

We covet your prayers as we careen toward this uncertain time that is ahead of us.

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2 thoughts on “Deployment: The Elephant in the Room

  1. What you are now facing is what I wondered if anyone had considered during those talks, two years or so ago. The pain of separation, threat of loss, and overwhelming sense of a lack of control when a loved one is in “harm’s way”. That was the life I lived with my father and his Army career. This is what I was wanting to protect you all from, but no one seemed to want to hear.

    So now, how do you survive? Remember that back in “my” days, we were not a particularly spiritual family, certainly not as much as you all are today. We had no church support, family was distant and it was basically just Mom, Kay, Dee and I during Dad’s first tour in Korea when I was a little older than Cooper.

    You survive by doing what needs to be done. Jeremy will do what he needs to do and Tiff will carry on until Jeremy returns. The days can get long, the weeks can drag, but if you are able to communicate, your heart will get you through.

    Tiff, I guess I just want you to know that there are some of us who know what it is like to live the military life. Dee and I are always available to support you with our own experiences of that kind of life and we are a testimony that the family can survive and even flourish through the times of separation.

    My heart breaks for you, Jeremy and the boys.. but also for the rest of us who love all of you so much and woulld rather have you all here… safe and sound.

    I love you all so deeply and pray for you every day…. and I understand what you are going through….I remember what it felt like to hear Dad say, “Well, I have my orders….”

    Dad Nevil

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