Last weekend, the boys and drove 15 1/2 hours back from our “vacation” with family in Missouri. We returned from the two weeks away to find a trifecta of messes in the house: The electrical circuit that feeds the garage blew for an unknown electrical reason; the freezer, which was packed from top to bottom, defrosted causing a stench so bad I had to put Vicks Vaporub under my nose (a trick I learned from CSI or Law and Order) just to tolerate the smell while I cleaned; and the home land line went out.
Worse than all of these, though, was what came at 1:00 the next day, when I used my cell phone to check my voice mail and heard a message from Horatio. I’d missed a call- the worst of the many little things that can ruin the day of the spouse of a deployed soldier or sailor.
I emailed Horatio and reminded him that the phone was not working and that he should use my cell phone, if by chance he got another opportunity to call. The next day, Harold and I were walking through Home Depot, looking for flowers to plant, when my phone rang. The number was unknown, but I picked up, luckily. It was Horatio.
After exchanging pleasantries, Horatio said, “So, I want to run a few things by you. Do you have a minute?” Usually, for a military spouse, this does not end well. After 19 years of military life, changing jobs, sudden and unexpected changes to orders, deployments, etc., I expected something dramatic. For instance, a move to Kuala Lumpur next summer, or a deployment extension came to mind. My heart sank to my stomach and I held the shopping cart for support.
I began flashing on all of the horror stories I have heard during our time in the military. (Yes, I did say ‘our’ time.) I once heard of a family who was already on-the-ground at their new duty station when a call came in telling them that rather than relocating to Washington DC, where they’d just signed a lease, they’d be moving to Germany, in 4 days.
Good friends of ours had one foot in the US after nearly a decade overseas only to be told that they’d be spending another year overseas. I took a deep breath and told Horatio to let me have it. Thankfully, though, Horatio just wanted to run down his list of dream jobs for his tour following his deployment, 99% of which are in the area where we currently live and own our home. Phew! The one overseas job on the list is a very far long shot, so I won’t worry about that right now. (Yes, I know, that means we’ll probably be moving overseas again, but… I refuse to worry about that right now.)
After the 15 minute conversation, Harold and I made our purchases, and riding the adrenaline rush, we went home where I dug up weeds, put down new top soil and mulch, planted our new flowers, and picked peaches from our tree.
Reconnection with a spouse is important in any marriage. Military couples are no exception. The only difference is that when a spouse is deployed, the reconnection effect has to last longer. I can only speak of my own experience, but since the contact is much less frequent than in a non military marriage, the calls do have a greater impact than during a non deployment period. We are a team, Horatio and I. I don’t resent him for being away. If he could be here, he would, but he’s doing an important job where he is. So, he does his job over there and I do my job at home and when we reconnect, we reassure each other that we are giving it our best effort.
Hopefully, we have less than a year to go before he comes home. That may seem like forever to most people, but to me, it’s 1/3 of the time down, only 2/3 to go.