“We don’t know how long this deployment is. We aren’t planning on R&R. We are planning for twelve but are being told six. Everything is in limbo.” Of all the uncertainty we face in this life this one killed me the most. And this wasn’t even C. Mine had come home and her’s had just left. There is a big difference between six months and a year. And to not KNOW? Ugh. I felt for her.
She sounded just a little defeated – just for a moment – but I heard it. I can’t imagine.
Some of us still – every now and then – face a possible twelve month deployment becoming a fifteen. And many are beginning to face the six becoming twelve or vice versa. Punch to the gut. There is always the possibility that dates will change – that things will move to the right or the left. C’s last deployment was cut a month short. And while that was a JOY for our family, we knew that that meant another unit was deploying a month early.
Time tables change.
It’s almost a given.
I was talking to another spouse about “counting down.” She emailed asking what I thought about “count down” posters and the like. Another talked about counting down from twelve when twelve was uncertain. We all do it – it can help, can be a comfort to count down those days. It’s fun for our kids to have something that marks one day less without daddy. But in the situations where time is so uncertain, it can jolt us. It is a physical reminder that that time table just became longer. That we thought we were “this close” and now it feels we have miles left to go. It’s thinking you signed up for a half marathon and then being told at the half-way point that you accidentally committed to the whole thing.
So I talked to her about counting “up”. When we don’t know a definite timeline (and nothing is a definite timeline) we don’t risk having that physical reminder that everything changed. I told her to buy a large vase or pretty container of some sort and place it in a display area of her home. Then to find something that you love or that your child loves. Find pretty pebbles, or color different sand, collect seashells, or find something important to you and add one every day. Every day it becomes fuller. Every day it becomes more beautiful. Every day it becomes more and more a part of your home – your life.
And when your soldier comes home put a glass lid on it and keep it. Let it be a reminder of the journey. Let it show you how strong you have become. Look at it and know that it started empty – like we all can feel during a deployment – and it became something strong, something beautiful. Keep it for the next one and start another beside it. Recognize how far you come, each and every time you place something in it. Because you are counting up, moving up another day.
A deployment is very much like climbing a mountain – we are fighting our way up. I don’t think there is a downhill part of deployment. You can say that the second half counts as that but I don’t really see it. The challenges don’t suddenly stop just because we made it past that point. Every day was are battling uphill. Every day we are filling up that vase. Everyday we are going one more step forward until we make it to the top and we know that we made it. You feel accomplished. You are stronger. You did it.
So think about counting up instead.
Just an idea. ; )
Megan also blogs at http://toloveasoldier.blogspot.com