Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, it’s true: My husband’s first deployment is o-v-e-r, OVER! It feels good (and really foreign) to say that. He’s actually been out of Afghanistan for a bit now, but because of OPSEC (and all that jazz), I wanted to wait until he was back in Germany before I announced it on here.
A little refresher: my husband’s unit is housed out of Germany, so that’s where the Army considers his home to be. Meaning, that’s where he lived for the few months between Basic Training and deployment, and that’s where he’ll be until he gets leave (aka vacation) next month. After his few weeks of vacation, he goes back to Germany and I stay here in Texas until further notice.
The end of the deployment has me feeling a mix of emotions. Bear with me as I sort ‘em all out:
On the one hand, I’m incredibly disappointed that I couldn’t be in Germany to welcome my husband home. (We discussed me going there, but with our upcoming Australian vacation and the fact that there is so much uncertainty about when the soldiers would actually arrive in Germany, we decided it’d be easier to wait.) I think a part of me will always regret that I couldn’t be there. You see all these glorious reunions on tv of soldiers and their families, but what about the single (or geographically single) soldiers that stand by watching with no one in the crowd for them.
I feel overjoyed that Stephen is out of harm’s way and back on American-ish soil. (Do US Army Garrisons count as American soil? I’m going with yes.)
I’m really, really happy that he can do things like sleep in on the weekends, eat Taco Bell, drink alcohol when he wants to, use a toilet that flushes, and the list goes on.
In a weird way, I’m frustrated on Stephen’s behalf that he is “stuck” in Germany. Dude’s living in the barracks, y’all, and that’s not where he wants to be.
He’s just biding his time until leave. Sure, there are worse places to live (like Afghanistan, for instance), but the barracks are like crappier, smaller versions of dorm rooms. He has to share a room and he and his roommate share a bathroom with another guy. (Stephen was really hoping to get the solo room, not the double.) It sounds like his roommate doesn’t suck (woo-hoo!), but it’s not the same as being home.
I’m relieved that the hard part is over and now we really are in the homestretch. I’m still kind of holding my breath. (I think of the deployment being over as half an exhale.) I won’t fully relax until I can wrap my arms around my soldier, but I’m not longer scared that the knock at the door is a notification officer, I’m no longer wincing when the news starts talking about the war, I’m not longer agonizing over the fact that I haven’t gotten a phone call in x amount of hours and oh-my-god-what-does-that-mean. It’s over.
I’m a little jumbled-up over taking off my deployment pin. (Sad isn’t the right word, but I guess it’s the closest feeling to it.)
I’ve worn that sucker every day of the deployment. (I figured if Stephen doesn’t get a day off, the pin doesn’t get a day off.) I had extras in my purse and in the car. I always kept it right by the door, so I’d remember to put it on before I left the house. I wanted to do something ceremonial with it (burn it, bury it), but instead, I’m going to save it. Chances are, there will be a day in the future when I have to put it back on. I also have a deployment flag. (It was my grandmother’s when my father was deployed in Vietnam.) I’m going to leave the flag up until Stephen comes home. He gets to take it down.
My heart aches for those whose soldiers are still fighting and their families who are waiting. It’s a scary, lonely, roller-coaster-y place to be. You often feel invisible and forgotten. I want my fellow military spouses to know that I see you, and I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m still praying for your soldier’s safe return.
If you were counting, that’s six emotions, and trust me, y’all got the Cliff’s Notes versions. This girl is feeling all the emotions there are. Mostly though, I feel really lucky that my husband is safe, the deployment is over, and I’m so thankful that we’ll be reunited soon.*