I can't believe it has been almost a week since Hubby deployed. A whole 6 days - wow. I hope the whole deployment goes by this fast!

Many of my civilian friends have told me they can't imagine how we do it. Quite honestly I don't know how we do it either. Many of the young spouses or first time spouses with deploying soldiers that I have talked to over the past few weeks and month feel alone in their feelings. Once we have sat down, talked and shared how 'we' feel these first timers (and sometimes second timers) realize they are not alone – what they are experiencing is normal.  So today I want to share with you my latest experience with the dreaded "D-day" (deployment day) in hopes that it will help some spouse out there struggling with what she/he is going through. On D-day, Hubby didn't actually leave post until 10:30PM - most of you would think this is a good thing. It was not.

Have you ever sat at a death bed and watched someone die a slow death? I have. I compare D-day to that day. (Hard analogy, I know!)  Even though you are with that person, holding that persons hand, feeling that persons love, your heart is breaking the entire time because you know you only have a few hours left. You don't know what to say, you don't know what to do.  You have said it all and now all you can do is hope and pray that you have said and done enough to let that person know how much you love and care for that person.

It started off as any normal day. My alarm went off. I started breakfast. Hubby got up with me (not so normal). I woke Boy 1 up early because he wanted to spend some time with his dad before he went to school - he had TAKS testing. (Nice huh- 9th grade - can't miss TAKS.) We let the little kids sleep in because we were going to let them go to school late. It was a rough morning for Boy 1, this young boy that is turning into a man right before our eyes. (Just the week before Hubby gave him his first driving lesson, as he will be a driver when Hubby returns next year.) Boy 1 had to go to school and take the most important test of the school year on this day, the day his father deployed. I don't know how Boy 1 did it. That morning seemed to drag on and on. We all sat staring at each other not knowing what to say. The little kids were awake and getting weepie. I turned on the Wii and ordered some fun in our house - DANCE COMPETITION!! Let's Dance people! ;o) This worked for a while, at least until it came time for Boy 1 to go to school. I won't go into details about the good-bye between father and son, just know I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I type this.

After Boy 1 left for school we continued to TRY and have fun. It didn't work out so well. Every few minutes someone was crying over something silly - but we knew they were crying over something much more painful than not getting to pick the next song to dance to. After about an hour of trying to have fun Hubby and I realized the best thing to do was to send them to school to help get their minds off of the day’s events and just carry on with their 'normal' day. We had the kids start getting dressed. We took a few pictures - gave lots of hugs and kisses - and I took them to school. This will be the last time they see their daddy for a very long time. You can only imagine the tears going on in this house. I don't know how my husband did it. When we got to school I sat outside with the kids for a little while just giving them hugs and kisses and letting them know we were all going to be OK. I made sure they knew what was going to happen after school. They all had play dates and each were going home with different friends. When I left them only one was still crying - that's right, it was Girl. It is a good thing Girl has an amazing teacher -Mrs. L is the "Grandma" type who gave her lots of attention at first but then expected her to pull it together and get on with her day. (Army Strong.) To some of you this may seem harsh; to us it is the way we cope. Continue with your day as normal - get busy and get your mind off your sadness.

When I got back to the house there was a dead silence even though the radio was on. The air was so thick you could have sliced it with a knife. We cleaned up a little, made small talk, sat on the couch and held hands. Tears kept welling up in my eyes, but I would push them back - we still had a full day ahead of us, we should enjoy it. Right?!?! Hubby and I decided to get out of the house - we went to Lowe's and Home Depot - had lunch and saw a movie. Lunch seemed like it took HOURS and to boot we had a HORRIBLE waiter....it took him 15 minutes to even notice we were sitting at his table, another 5 to come back and take our drink order. I swear it felt like we were there for 3 hours. This was the never ending day. Typically when Hubby and I go out we talk, we laugh we have fun - when out to eat we always look at couples around us and try to figure out their story. I think someone looking us trying to figure out our story would think - blind date, not going well. After lunch we headed out to see the movie 'Hannah'. Not as good as we had hoped for and again, it seemed like the longest movie in history!! After the movie it was finally time to drop Hubby off at the battalion for bag drop. For those of you non-military folks, this is when we drop our soldier off say good-bye for a few hours while the soldier checks in, turns in his bags and draws his weapons (typically for us this is our final good-bye as I don't normally go to the pre-manifest site). Now granted it is only 4PM, his flight doesn't leave for another 6.5 hours. At 6PM families are able to meet up with their soldier at the pre-manifest sight. In our case it was a gym. After dropping hubby off, I checked on the kids (all doing great on their play dates), went shopping for a little while then headed over to the gym to do a little decorating and getting ready for our soldiers to arrive. 

Hubby and I decided the best thing for our family was to say good-bye in the morning as it would be too hard to send the children to school and then to see them for only an hour after school.  We never have and most likely never will take our children to the pre-manifest site.  It is just too hard for our family.  There are too many tears and too much pain at the pre-manifest sites, as I have witnessed over and over during this deployment season.  I once had a chaplian sugguest against taking children to the pre-manifest site  - he pointed out that this is the last image and memory your child will have of their soldier for a long time, and if you say goodbye from a happy place, (like home) other memories will overlap the 'last good-bye'.  I am hoping that is the case and thing our children remember is that their dad rocks at 'Just Dance' on the Wii!  ;o)

This time I wanted to go to the pre-manifest site. To date I had been to all the flights, I had seen off all the soldiers in the battalion and I didn’t want to not be there. I needed and wanted to shake hands, take pictures, and hug spouses or child in need of a hug. I needed and wanted to be there even though I wasn't sure how long I would be able to stay. I wanted to see my husband off.

The soldiers finally started arriving at the gym (a little late) at around 6:30PM. I did my thing. I took pictures, passed out candy, shook hands, hugged people, and kept one eye on my husband at all times. I occasionally went over to him for a quick hug and smooch. At 8:45 the announcement was made stating that our soldiers would be called into formation in 10 minutes & after this10 minute warning families would no longer have contact with your soldier.  As soon as I heard this announcement I found Hubby, give him a few good hugs and kisses that will have to last a very long time and headed for the door. I couldn't stay for that final formation. As I walked out of that gym I bowed my head and walked out so no one could see the tears streaming down my face.

Army Family, Army Strong.  That is how we do it. 

Tammy Stewart
5/4/2011 01:48:29 am

Well said. I cried reading it as my heart breaks for all of you during this time. So proud of all of you.

5/4/2011 02:16:02 am

Trish, i just gone bawling my eyes out, as i read this to Mike. wow that was well written and all so true. After three deployments for me i understand and youare an amazing woman truly.

5/4/2011 02:16:24 am

Trish, you are constantly amazing me at how you have become such a strong woman! You have such a talent with writing; I am crying as I write this. I hope people who read your blog will remember that Jer and his men are still out there fighting for us and what sacrifices the entire family makes for them. May god watch over you and yours.

5/4/2011 02:19:10 am

You are so amazing Trish! Your family is in our thoughts.

5/4/2011 02:20:27 am

As usual so well said, You guys are amazing, you will rock this deployment as handle it as you handle everything, with laughter and love...thinking of you guys and hoping your time flys!

5/4/2011 03:42:03 am

love the banner pic. I can't read the whole post now, because i need to work, not sit at my desk & cry.

diane daniels
5/4/2011 04:33:20 am

trish you are so amazing i love you so much i am praying for you and your family ever day i cryed reading that i dont know how you do it but you are wonderful and you have a great family love you trish

5/4/2011 06:28:05 am

So funny when somebody puts into words exactly some of the same feelings and experiences you've had.. love your blog!

linda tilley
5/6/2011 04:57:57 pm

I am speechless...love all of you and what you do for our country...

5/9/2011 10:32:40 am

I love you my darling daughter-in-law...I can not imagine how hard this is for you and the kids..my son is so lucky to have you and so am I!! This breaks my heart...but I know that you are such a strong woman and you are such a supportive wife to my son...THANK YOU FOR ALL THE SACRIFICES THAt YOU HAVE MADE!!..MIL


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