Monday, May 23, 2011

What It's Like When He Leaves

Saying goodbye to someone you love is never easy. Add to that the stress of preparing for deployment, planning the next months without the love of your life in the picture, and the uncertainty of military combat missions and you have a pretty taxing scene on your hands.

In the days leading up to goodbye, there is a certain pressure to say and do and feel and think, well ... more. Say all the things you want him to know before he leaves, do everything you can to enjoy your time with him, feel his presence so you can have it with you even when he's gone, and think of all the things you'll miss about him so you can memorize it, cherish it, and hold it close for future reference.  It's an impossible task, but one military spouses take on time and time again.

How do you plan events so special that they take the place of all the events he will miss over the next year?  How do you say "I love you" enough to cover all the "I love yous" you'll miss?  How do you absorb the sight of him so that you can remember what it's like to have him sitting at the breakfast table, working on the home computer, playing ball with the kids in the backyard, or walking in the front door after work?  The truth is ... you can't.  It is just not possible.

So why all the pressure to do this over and over again?  For me, I think it's just the way I deal with the separation.  I want to make sure I've done absolutely everything I can to prepare myself emotionally.  I find myself staring at him, taking in every single feature, touching his face to memorize every tiny detail, and talking about our very favorite memories together.  These are the things I want to have with me when he's gone and the things I want him to take with him as he goes.

Then, it's time.  It's time for the final goodbye, the last kiss, the closing remarks.  It can never be enough and yet it has to be done.  There is a moment ... a moment when his back turns to move on to the next thing ... to get onto a government bus, to step onto a plane, to walk to formation, or to walk out the front door ... that marks this as THE. END.  It's the end of ... dwell time, of R&R leave, of his time at home, of your time with him, of the normalcy you've worked so hard to create ...  and it is so heartbreaking you're not sure you can survive it.  A flash of panic rises in your throat and you're not sure you can breathe.

But you do.  You take one breath, and then another, then another.  You swallow the silent protests that threaten to spill out at any moment ... begging him to stay, cursing the concept of war, and admitting that you're just not sure you can do this ... and you smile, and wave, and say goodbye.  For now.


  1. Wow, Traci, this is heart-breaking and perfectly expressed. I hate that you have to say "good bye" but I know that you whole heartedly believe in the reason. Praying for you and your guys during this time apart.

  2. This was written perfectly!! My husband is heading back from R&R very, very soon and I am feeling these exact things right now!

  3. Thanks for your comment on my blog today. Great post. We will be coming on our first deployment soon. Getting prepared sounds like one of the worst parts!

  4. Traci...a high school friend of your mom's (Donna Spires Bennett) posted link to this on FB. My husband just left for his 3rd deployment to Middle East. It is hard...especially leading up to the departure. We never say goodbye...we just say, "See ya later."

    My son & I are hoping to meet hubby in London over Thanksgiving for R&R. Last deployment we met in Germany...stayed at Edelweiss...LOVED IT!!!!

    Best of luck & hugs to you! Hooah!!!!

  5. That last paragraph says it all... exactly.

    Thanks for checking out my blog, and now I get to follow yours too!

  6. Traci,

    I have always considered it an honor to know Nate. And I'm so glad to have found both of you on Facebook so that I could follow your blog. In fact, I added your blog to my blog list so I could keep up with you more easily.

    Thanks for posting so honestly. I'll be praying for all four of you during the next year!


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