I have been a military wife for twenty-six years now and I could not be any prouder of my husband than I already am. When we got married he worked full-time for the National Guard and has always been a member of the Guard even when he held other jobs.
Shortly after we married, we moved back to my home town and my husband took a job with the prison system and did that for eight years. A position became available at the local National Guard Armory and he left the prison and resumed his career with the military full time once again. He stayed in our hometown running and maintaining the armory here until a promotion became available in a town thirty miles away and he took it. He has been there ever since.
About April of 2011, we learned that his unit may be activated for a mission in Iraq. Later we were told it would be to Kuwait and he would most likely leave in January of 2012. That may not seem like anything big since he had been in the military for twenty-eight years. The only problem with this is, in all these years and all our married life, this was going to be his very first deployment. Needless to say, this wife fell apart and I had no clue how to handle this. Keep in mind that I taught military families at a state level how to do the very thing I could not fathom. Friends and family repeatedly told me I was strong and I would get through this.
Fast forward to January 2012……….He leaves for his annual two-week training, comes home for 3 days, leaves for Mississippi for a three-month pre-mobilization training, comes home for six days and ships off to Kuwait for a nine month tour. All this may seem irrelevant to some but when a person is afflicted with Fibromyalgia, it can quickly escalate into a major, life altering incident!
I can tell you that I went through every emotion comprehendible. First I was scared, then I got angry, then I began to feel a great loss, I felt helpless and ultimately I grew to accept what would be my life for the next year. I was scared because how in the world would I do it all by myself when my husband helped me so much and now I was faced with what I had always done plus picking up all the things he did. I became angry because why after all these years did they have to take him from me when I was in need of him the most. Why couldn’t they have done this 10-15 years earlier? The loss I felt was from loving someone so much and having him with me the past twenty-six years and suddenly he was going to be half a world away. The helplessness stemmed from knowing that I did depend on him for so much and now I only had myself to rely upon. It took me about 4-6 months to come to terms with him being gone and learning that yes, I could do this no matter how hard it was!
Here I was dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, trying to run a house alone again, figuring out how to deal with what I call “overload”, attempting to help my children who got in trouble and had to look to Mom to “save” them, and feeling so very alone the entire time. I had to learn how to wake up alone, go to bed alone, eat alone, take care of the household duties, the yard work (I did hire someone to mow and weed eat for me. I did take care of my flowers as I find some sort of therapy being outside and digging in the earth.), paying all the bills, handling any problem that arose, and somehow finding the strength to wake up every day and do it all again.
I think for the first three months, I was made myself literally sick worrying about him and trying to find a way to cope with this new, unwanted hand I had been dealt. I knew I had to find a way to stay busy and keep my mind occupied. I began with painting one room in my house and ended up painting all of them except my bedroom only because my husband banned me from doing it until he got back and could re-do the sheet rock that we put up before moving in here thirteen years ago. After the painting was complete, I redid my kitchen cupboards and then started a tile backsplash. Needless to say, I had to ask my neighbor to help me as I had bit off way more than I could chew. Thank goodness he was so willing to help me and get it completed mere weeks before Pat’s return!
In the months during his deployment, my depression peaked, my thoughts of being so grateful for what he did for me grew, things I know now I took for granted, some days I worried myself sick fearing the worst could happen, my flares were a little more frequent and intense, and I learned just how strong I could be.
The picture you see above is of Pat and myself upon his return with our daughter in the background holding our youngest granddaughter and trying to keep the tears at bay and failing. I have never been so thankful as I was that day, knowing he was home and safe once again! It’s bad enough to be sick with Fibro but add the stress of having your spouse be what seemed like a million miles away, and you can imagine the way life was for me during that years time. I would never wish that upon anyone. The one thing I am grateful for is all three of our children were grown and it did not happen while they were little. That would have been the worst possible scenario.
I have always been a very patriotic person and extremely supportive of our troops and their families. After surviving, and yes, I did make it just fine although there were many doubtful days; I have a newfound appreciation for military families everywhere! If and when you ever thank a soldier, please thank their family right along with them. The sacrifices they make are just as important as the ones their loved ones make. Is this an easy job, absolutely not. Is it worthwhile, you bet! You just try doing it one day and see if it is something you could do! Military people are a special and rare breed and I am so very honored to say that I am one of them, no matter how tough the job. I am honored and humbled to be part of the greatest bunch of men and women I know! Sleep in peace my friends, you are safely guarded! 🙂