It can be one of the most difficult things you've ever done.
And it is beyond hard, sometimes, to really grasp the reality of things that haven't yet happened to you.
Of things that are real, yet not within your perceived reality.
But it can be especially hard to face the reality of what is happening, when you understand what you stand to lose if it all goes horribly wrong.
The first time my husband was supposed to deploy he didn’t.
However six months later, he did.
When he told me leave was getting cut short and he was going to Iraq, I just blew it off because it changed before and it would again.
So I thought.
We enjoyed two weeks instead of four traveling around in an RV with two dogs and our daughter, Haley, who was six months at the time. It was great. I didn’t even think that he really was going to go to war or what that meant.
He left a week after we returned.
I denied the fact that soldiers were dying and that one of those soldiers was lying in bed with me at night. This soldier, the love of my life and the father of my daughter, was leaving for war. I blocked it and it wasn’t real for me. I couldn’t even try to imagine how life would be with him in Iraq.
Not being able to share the experience of being parents for the first time with each other.
Not having him there to see his brand new baby roll over for the first time or help give her a bath after she tried real food for the first time.
I could not comprehend, nor did I want to, how our lives were going to be different.
Now getting closer to the end of a third deployment, I see how I do this every time he leaves and every time he gets back.
At first it is always, “he might not go or they (the Army) will change it.”
Or, “we haven’t really changed during this last year or more.”
Eventually he goes and then reality hits.
He will leave.
How can this not change who we are?
I used to focus on the assumption that he would do his tour and he would come home. We would continue like nothing happened and we would be us again.
Then at 0545 in the morning, during our second deployment, I was rocking our second war baby and I saw a government vehicle parked at the dead end just down from my house.
I stopped breathing.
I watched the clock and I stood there looking out the window at the car that would deliver the unthinkable news: Someone had died.
My heart stopped and the fifteen minutes that it took for that car to drive past my house was the longest period of time that I have ever felt.
I sighed with relief and cried.
Thankful that it wasn’t me getting told the news that my spouse was gone and terrified for the spouse that was going to get the knock on the door and the news that all of us fear the most.
It hit me in that moment that he might not come back.
He might not come back this time.