I’m only almost two months into deployment. But already, this trial has taught me so much. It’s taught me about myself, my husband, my marriage, my relationship as a whole, and my relationship with God. First off, let me explain to you how the night of February 11th went.
My husband got a call at about 3 in the afternoon saying he had to be on ship by 11 that night, when he was supposed to have been there at 5 am the next day. I hope none of you ever feel the desperation I felt that night. I don’t even know what I was desperate for. For him not to leave me, for me not to get back on a plane (I hate planes), for us to not be separated once again. But we didn’t say anything about it, until later that night in our hotel room, cross legged on the bed eating pizza from the box. (We’re super romantic, obviously.) He looked at me and said, “I hope you have a good birthday. Do something fun.” And oh, if I could explain to you that my heart broke in such a way that I could almost hear a crack, I would. Because this is our reality. We celebrated Valentine’s Day early. We haven’t spent a birthday with each other in two years now. We’ve always been separated, and now more than one ocean lies between us. But I didn’t cry. I smiled, and choked down the tears in my throat, and told him of course I would. And that was all. At 1045 that night we sat in a parking lot of the naval base of San Diego, his head in my lap and tears in my eyes. He wouldn’t look at me, because I could feel his tears, too. And that’s what hurt the most. He’s my hero, you know. He has held me up when I felt boneless. He has always been my knight in shining armor, though sometimes confused as a moron in tin foil. He is my superman, my backbone, my rock. And to feel him cry was absolute agony. It hurt me to the very depths of my soul. And then he kissed me one more time, and we got out of the car and clung to each other with a desperation surely only known to madmen. I watched him walk away silently, and I slipped into the drivers seat. And once the door had shut, I couldn’t contain myself. He was halfway to the gate. I scrambled for my phone, and dialed a number I had memorized four years before. “Come back,” was all I could say in a strangled voice that didn’t even sound like my own. And he turned around, and we held each other one more time, before he said, “I have to go.” And that was the end. I watched him walk to the gate from the car, and it took everything in me not to run after him. What that would accomplish, I don’t know. But I didn’t want him to leave me. I sat in that car for another hour, crying until my eyes burned, my throat hurt, my head pounded rhythmically in a way I could feel right behind my eyes. And now, almost two months later, I am stronger. I am not whole. I am not okay. I am not fine. But I am stronger. I wake up and take on the day. I have my own backbone, and I have become my own hero. Because I haven’t had a choice. The things I have learned about myself: I am capable. God would not have made me for someone like Ricky if I couldn’t handle this lifestyle. I am so very capable of surviving this deployment, and THRIVING in it as well. I am capable.
I am stronger than I thought, and braver than I knew. I did not think I would be able to handle the loneliness. And sometimes, it feels as though I cannot. But I know, in my bones, that I can, that I am, and that I am going to be okay.
The things I have learned about my husband: he is not a talker of feelings. He does not always SAY what he feels. But, I know he misses me the way I miss him, with that dull ache we feel in our chest. And I know because of the things he does say on the occasional phone call.
What I’ve learned about my marriage: it rocks. So many people cannot make it through a week on an oil rig, or a tug boat. But we can make it through thousands of miles, weeks of silence, terrible moments of loneliness. My marriage rocks, and my relationship with my husband is 10 million times stronger for it.
And what I’ve learned about my relationship with God: He is the only reason I’m thriving. He has made all good things, and He has given me a heart of endurance. He has given me a spirit of love and wisdom, not of fear. He is my strength when I feel as though I have none. He is my rock, and my constant. He is why I am going to be okay, even on my bad days.
I am miserable. It is the kind of miserable that you can’t shake. Your laughter has a tinge of melancholy, the smile you show to people is fake, it doesn’t reach your eyes. Sometimes, getting out of bed is the biggest chore of all. And yet…and yet, every day that passes is one more day over. Every day that the sun sets is one less day I have to go. Being alone isn’t so bad. It’s the being lonely that hurts.
Sometimes, however, being alone is good for you. You grow as an individual, you learn things about yourself, you strengthen whatever relationship you have with whomever is missing. Sometimes, however much we hate it, being alone is what we need.