Tonight on our rainy drive home from dinner at a friend's house I was lost in thoughts of how much my husband would have enjoyed the company of the evening. I was lost in how sad I was that he wasn't there because those are the times when I miss him the most. The happy times are hardest because I can't share it with him.
A few nights ago I served a casserole for dinner. I served the baby first, put her in her highchair and set her to it while I put servings on my plate and my son's. When I turned around my daughter was in the process of sorting out all the ingredients of the casserole into separate piles, and then she set to work eating each pile in turn. I know that things like this would have gotten a good laugh from my husband and it makes me sad that he missed it.
Then it occurred to me how much more difficult it is to leave than to be the one left behind. I've been so wrapped up in how my children and I are going to survive this, I haven't even gotten to how my husband feels.
There are two people inside my husband's body. There is Home Husband, the man I know and love, the jokester, and the devoted husband and father. Then there is Deployment Husband. Deployment Husband is distant. Deployment Husband calls sporadically, and when he does call he speaks in Deployment Voice. The voice that responds in one word answers and who's tone reveals nothing. I understand that part of it is the job. But the other part is for self preservation.
I cannot fully understand how stressful things must be for him while he is gone, doing what he does. But I respect it. What I haven't fully respected is how difficult it must be for him to leave. I haven't respected how hard it must be on him to leave me and our children standing there crying when he knows he can't comfort. I haven't respected how bad he must feel watching us disappear into the night when he's uncertain when he will return. I can't imagine how terrible it is to know that our children will grow up without him while he is away. How hard it must be to know that he will miss our son's first day of Kindergarten, the first time he reads a book on his own, and our baby will be talking by the time he returns.
I know that Deployment Husband shuts all of that off in order to do the job he must and get home to us again. I've known that for a long time. The rest of it hasn't really sunk in until now, and it makes me love and miss him even more.
As always in my prayers, I will ask God to protect my husband from harm. But tonight for the first time I will also ask that He grant my beloved peace of heart and mind that all is well back home. That we are doing our job so he can do his.
When he returns, we may be a little older. We may be a little wiser. But we will not be resentful that he missed important parts of our lives. We will be understanding of how it must have felt to miss them. We will welcome him with unconditional love, and our family will be whole once again.