It’s Not About The Boots. What Military Deployment Feels Like For The Family Left Behind.

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It’s almost like having surgery. You are unsure going in and wake up feeling nervous. Hazy. And when you finally make it to recovery, you can’t really recall what has transpired.

Occasionally there is residual pain, but it can usually be managed.

The military predeployment phase, the 4- 6 months “working up” to the actual separation, is usually when the wacky, irrational behavior kicks in.

Like, the dirty boots on the floor being punishable by death.

Only… It ain’t about the boots. No. Duh! It’s the knowing. What’s to come. After 9 deployments, I can admit it. Deep down, I know; I’ll soon miss those damn, smelly boots.

There’s no sugarcoating it. The whole process sucks: before, during, after.

And that’s ok. I’ve decided that I can be a supportive, patriotic marine corps wife, while still being pissed about the leaving part.

I cringe as flack jackets and helmets are packed. When is, after all, the right time to go over his will and burial wishes? Inevitably having to explain why I would not be comfortable having his ashes shot out of a cannon onto the parade deck of his alma mater.

And no matter how many times we’ve been down this road, it doesn’t get much easier. Funny though, if it did, something would be wrong. It’s not natural. And I know it. We know it. But, it is our normal.


Once the ship sails or the plane takes flight, there’s an overwhelming sense of loss. Then, slowly acceptance sets in. This time, though, our kids are older and will likely experience a whole new set of feelings. I can only imagine. With a greater grasp of reality of the world we live in, we can’t spin it much or lie. They deserve more respect than that.

The inherent danger is a fact. And that’s what keeps me up at night. Sure, they are extremely proud of their dad, but that doesn’t erase their pain, nor should we expect it to do so.

How do you provide comfort yet validate their fears? It’s not fair. No, sir. Birthdays, holidays, parent-teacher conferences, vacations, games, Sundays, sick days. Failing because I can’t be mom and dad. It takes grace, but often I will misstep.

Months and months will pass.

Eventually, the anticipation for the homecoming will begin. And then…

The return. Dirty boots back on the floor.


Back under one roof as a family again. Time to adapt. Adjust. Acclimating to living as the G4 rather than 3. There’s a transition, quite different than seen in the movies. Everyone has to find their way. And it’s not always pretty.

Only later, the amnesia sets in. And we are back in recovery. Prouder, braver and God Willing, intact.

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This post originally appeared on, Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about navigating through the fog of raising kids with cochlear implants and other things from the heart.   I have discovered that there is no such thing as “typical” and prefer square pegs.

Unrelated but not irrelevant…

I love Rap and God; I have a degree in journalism and in second grade wrote my first short story about a walking/talking sponge (Can you say: “I was robbed?!”); I’ve been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90’s hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes).

I experienced hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick ass the next six times I toed the line; A lifetime ago, I cut hair on Melrose Avenue; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged (bullied) me to share my story.

This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Here’s where you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and my blog, Valli Vida Gideons.

 
 

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