When we actually stop and look the emotions surrounding military separations of any kind in the eye, what do we see?
What have we been trained to respond with?
What is okay for us to say?
More importantly, is it okay for us to not only say those emotions, but feel them as well?
The months passed, the weeks flew by, the vacations were over, and we were finally at the end of the wait for him to go to Korea.
A small country in Asia. A small country with turmoil and countless threats from North Korea. A country rich in history and tradition. A place unique unlike any other place we could ever imagine. He would start another new adventure in a foreign land –without us.
We will stay home. We will have routine, bed times, a car, the grocery store, road trips, Girl Scouts, school, and lazy days in the lake. He will have a new apartment, a new job, no car, and a life dedicated to the Army.
The day before he left, we anticipated tears.
It was a beautiful morning and I woke up to brew coffee. I told myself it would be the last pot I would brew for him for a year. I stifled the tears, silenced the voice and poured him a hot mug of coffee. We sat outside at our usual spot, watching the sunrise and drank coffee.
Today, we had an easy breakfast of fresh fruit. No one cried. He began his habit of rechecking all of his bags and adding last minute items. I helped him fold, stuff, zip, and clip his bags shut. I didn’t shed a single tear. The kids played, asking when he would take them for a swim. They suited up and played in the lake for hours. I watched and not a single tear. The kids laughed and played. He jumped on the trampoline. They splashed and hollered. We ordered pizza for supper. We laughed and shared ice creams. Bedtime came around and we followed our usual routine. No one cried. No one woke in the middle of the night. Nothing.
Why didn’t we shed our tears? Four separations are enough for no tears? Are we that stoic? Are we that desensitized? Did we run out of tears?
The months and weeks leading up to the day he left were hell. Our car broke. We lived with one car. The skylights started to leak. Our dryer broke. The cat died. I broke my wedding ring. The computer crashed. If something could go wrong, it did.
The oldest child had tantrums.
She tested our patience.
He stormed outside.
The youngest hid under her bed in silence. She spent afternoons in imaginary play, ignoring everyone else, hiding from reality.
We spent three months in emotional turmoil. We had succumbed so many emotions that we were on empty.
We plowed through routine because routine was our only comfort.
The day before he left wasn’t some sort of win—it is a sign of our submission.