April 16, 2014

Once Upon a Time, there was a deployment

So…it’s been a little over six months and I never did an official “end of deployment wrap-up” post. I intended to, but we were busy, then out of town, then having a baby, then Christmas…life.

Probably best to have a bit of distance anyway. But I do want to have a cumulative record of it. So, better late than never.

Last year was our very first deployment. It lasted 9.5 months on the nose. SoldierMan left Dec 1, 2012 and returned Sept 16, 2013. I don’t think past events are OPSEC.

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About a week after SoldierMan left, the car died, the toilet broke, and something else had to be fixed/replaced (can’t remember what). And I only had to make one phone call to my Dad to fix it all. So that helped me start the deployment off feeling all empowered and stuff.

I went home for Christmas for a little over a week. I left the boys here at the kennel, which was unavoidable but made it really hard to be away from El Paso. I loved being home with family, of course, but it didn’t feel as much of “home” without either SoldierMan or my two furry SoldierMan compensations.

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My sister came back to El Paso with me and stayed a couple of weeks over New Year’s, which was great. It was nice to have someone here who I didn’t have to “entertain” but still was able to engage in conversation. :)

Right after she left was the rope incident, where I spent several hours seriously worried I might lose Achilles. I may have infinitesimally overreacted emotionally, but let me just say, I am so thankful A) for twitter telling me just a day or two before that, just because that dog had eaten pretty much everything else under the sun – socks, underwear, power cords – and come out okay, ropes are a whole different ball game and you don’t “wait it out in case he can work through it on his own,” and B) Vets who are open on Sunday nights.

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About that time was when I got plugged into a weekly Bible Study for wives of the deployed soldiers. This group became one of my anchors during deployment. We went through a lot together – babies being born, interpersonal drama, and tragically, one of our members losing her husband in combat.

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In March, I (finally) got hired for a job I had applied for the November previous. It was simultaneously one of the coolest jobs I’d ever had, and also the job from Hell. I won’t go into details here, but I only lasted a few months.

After the job ended, I stepped up to an Executive Board position with our post Officer and Civilian Spouse Association. That has pretty much kept me busy ever since, but I’m loving it. Worth its own blog post, which is coming.

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In the spring, I went to my first ever ComiCon, in Phoenix, with my sister. It was one of the most fun long-weekend trips ever. If I hadn’t had that stupid job, it would’ve been longer. And more fun. But the stupid job paid for the trip. Oh, adulthood.

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Anyway, it was fabulous and super fun to hang out with my sister just the two of us for a few days and embrace our uniquely-shared quirkyness. And eat lots of room service and sleep in. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Oh, and I made a dress. With pockets.

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In the summer, the brigade began bringing units home, and I got to experience my first homecomings and homecoming photography adventures. (SoldierMan didn’t come back until a few months later) Undoubtedly one of the greatest experiences of my life. No hyperbole.

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During the first half-ish of the deployment, I had a good routine and was active and lost 10+ inches overall and felt awesome. Sometime in the summer, my docs changed up my meds, and within weeks I gained it all back. It was pretty discouraging at the time (who wants to gain weight right before homecoming???) but I know that if I lost it once, in a safe way, I can lose it again.

I made a bunch of new friends and said goodbye to old ones.
I went on my first real solo road trip (as in, longer than 2 hours).
I took a friend to have surgery.
I got to go back to Oklahoma a couple of times.
Achilles and I finally cemented our bonding over SoldierMan’s absence.
Jeb got used to sleeping on SoldierMan’s side of the bed, but the first night SoldierMan was home, gave his spot back willingly.
I learned to appreciate all the relationships I had built up over the last few years with you all, my BBs, whose experiences I recalled to myself multiple times throughout the deployment.
I rearranged the furniture a few times.
I sent a ton of care packages, which may have been more for me than for him. :) Some of them were better than others. Some of them (like birthday cake in a mason jar) were epic fails.
I used a whole tank of propane on our grill over the summer.
I had almost nothing to do with our unit’s FRG but I plugged into Ft. Bliss and our Brigade in other ways, so I never felt like I was missing anything there.

And then, finally, nine and a half months later, SoldierMan came home.

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I don’t mind saying, now that it’s all over, I’m pretty proud of how 2013 went. I had promised myself before the deployment began that I wasn’t going to “waste” the time by wishing the days away until he got back. I wasn’t going to have a thin little scrapbook with blank pages for 9 months. And I feel like I lived up to that promise. Even though I couldn’t spend the majority of that year with him, it’s not a missing year in my life, and that was the goal.

I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience, and thankfully we won’t have to for at least a little while, thanks to SoldierMan’s schedule for the next year or so. I’m glad to be on the other side of it. I’m glad that he comes home from work every day. I’m glad we have a 4-day this weekend that we get to spend together. I’m glad that we are getting to spend 2014 making memories together.

There’s no one else I’d rather do it with.

5 comments:

  1. I loved this post! I'm glad you managed to keep busy, that's easily the BEST way to handle any separation (deployment, TDY, etc).

    I am curious about this job from hell though.....

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  2. You definitely managed to fill up those 9 months! I kept pretty busy during Joe's deployment, but I still sometimes wish I had done even more. :)

    I'm also really excited about your homecoming baby! ;-)

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  3. Keeping busy is always the best during deployment. I worked during our first one and volunteered during the second. Best decisions I ever made. :)

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  4. I know there are those spouses who can't handle deployment well (and I feel like I'd probably be one of them more days than not), but there are so many - you included - who totally impress me with their ability to continue doing life and have adventures. You rock!

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  5. Wow! You were so busy and did a ton of cool stuff! Awesome.

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