My husband Darren and I have been together since high school and for as long as I can remember, he wanted to enlist. I, on the other hand, was always very against this. I mean, who really wants their other half to be on the other side of the world fighting in a war? He would bring up the topic and I would shoot it down, for years. He brought this topic to the table one more time, but this time, he had done his homework! Let's just say he was a salesman at the time and he totally sold me. He soon left us for Basic, AIT, and airborne school and I would soon be married to an active duty airborne infantryman.
Because he would be going full time Army, and because of his MOS (job title in the army), we would not be able to stay in our little bubble called Utah because there are no jobs that fit the description in the state. So while he trained in other states for months, I stayed home and prepared for our new world. When he was assigned to his unit, we found out that he would be going onto Iraq very soon after. Again, I stayed home with our two young kiddos. It was very hard and scary as a first timer (knowing he was in Iraq), but I was very thankful for both his and my family who helped take our minds off of that. Right after Christmas in 2007, he arrived back to Utah just in time to pack up our home and put everything on a moving truck to move north, very north in fact. We were headed to Fort Richardson, Alaska. We boarded an airplane in Las Vegas and ended up in Anchorage- in the dead of winter. Talk about a giant change! But, we were also excited.
That next year, Darren was gone training a lot, preparing for an Afghanistan deployment which would take place about a year later. The kids were 1 and 3 years old and even though I was use to doing most everything alone (my husband was a traveling salesman pre-army), I was in for a whole new ball game! I was in a place where I didn't know a soul, and I would never be able to jump in a car and go back home to Utah- it was too far. Plus I was in snow! I had no clue how to even drive to the store because I came straight from the desert!
After that first year, the time had come; time to put our game faces on. Deployment time was here. This meant that I was going to be totally alone, with no family and, at that time, only a few friends. There were times I felt that I was in a foreign country being on post- Alaska was just so different from what I knew.
I said goodbye to my love and drove home.
I remember feeling like I was dying. The pain in your heart and the knot in your gut is something that unless you yourself have lived, you just cannot fully grasp. The first part is rough, to say the very least. But after about a week of feeling like doing nothing at all, you really have no other choice but to BUCK UP. You have no other choice but to put faith in the unknown. I am now, more than ever, a very firm believer in "whatever will be will be" because this is the only way you will make it. You have no other choice but to (as they say in the army) "soldier on" and "square yourself away". I was the mom to two small kids (2 and 4 years old) and I needed to have it together. I was their rock. I owed that to them. Because this was a life choice that Darren and I made together, choosing to move away, far away from home knowing full well I would be without my husband, it was my job and mine alone to keep the world of my sweet little kids going and as normal as possible.
It was not easy being without Darren. I could never bank on a phone call and would sometimes go a month and a half with no word from him at all. Webcam was awesome, but it only worked maybe 3 times and for such short spans you would hardly get in any sort of conversation at all. All you can do is take it one day at a time.
But during that time, you learn a lot about yourself, what really matters in this world and also what you are truly capable of. I had never been away from my family (this includes my mom, grandma, aunts, cousins, you name it), but I found out that I am much stronger than I had thought! The sense of independence I gained is something that I will thankfully carry with me for the rest of my life. I did, however, have an amazing small group of other army wives right there with me the entire time and they will be family to me from here on out. I am forever thankful that I was blessed enough to meet them on this journey.
Once Darren finally came home, after one long year in Afghanistan, life was great but it was also very different at the same time.
We have had to find our new normalcy again.
But I am so thankful and grateful that we have been able to take on these chapters in our lives together and continue to grow, not only as individuals but together as husband and wife. I thank God everyday that the bond we share continues to grow- something that I now understand is often times hard to find. I am happy to say we just celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary (yesterday) and I look forward to many more years together!
We are no longer living in army world. Darren is out due to medical reasons- the main one being his knee. When the surgeon went into fix it, he found it inoperable and is at the current time, only a few years out from a total knee replacement due to combat.
Now, we are back in Utah and we are trying the civilian life again. It is still quite new to us, but it's getting better everyday. I will forever be grateful for what the Army did for us in plenty of ways. It helped us grow and showed us what life is really all about- opening my eyes to things I would have never been able to understand had I not given my husband the ok to enlist.
In my mind, I will always be an army wife.
**Remember that the purpose of this series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to grow.Kassy will be reading your comments so, you may comment directly to her. **Kass, thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with us! I remember when you were counting down the days until he got back and I could feel the emotions of excitement and love and loneliness. When I saw the pictures above on Facebook the night he got back, I cried. What a very special and tender time for you all and what a opportune time to grow in incredible ways. I'm so very proud of you! And of course, a big heartfelt thank you to each and everyone of our service men/women (in past and present, wherever they are)... as well as a BIG thank you to their spouses and families who also sacrifice so much!