Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ghosts

I've wondered to myself a lot today how long it might take a couple to settle back into normal life after a deployment. Probably because I am half of one of those couples. Not that it's taking longer than I expected... not at all, I think it's more of, I'm just trying to take a step back and evaluate and observe how we're doing.

I also think it's a little different for us because with a typical deployment, the soldiers come home, usually in groups, and there is a return to the community as a whole. However, since Sgt. left for Green to Gold, and jumped nearly immediately into school full time, sometimes I get the feeling that we were rushed to open one chapter before getting the opportunity to close another, and that somewhere along the way, we carried the ghosts of the deployment over with us.

Of course my idea is just what I imagine, having never been through a deployment other than this one, having never had to deal with one ending other than the way this one did... but my general idea is the soldiers come home and then they, and the families, have some time to put the deployment to rest. Often times block leave is taken, soldiers go back to work, but they're home "on time" and there is a sense of leaving the deployment behind and rebuilding a "normal" life.

In a sense, Sgt.'s deployment is still going on. He's home, yes. But his guys are still there. It must be a weird transition to not only try and adjust to you being home, but at the same time, a part of you still being there, because they are there. Maybe. I don't know. I haven't talked to him about that and sometimes I think to ask, and then it gets caught up in the moment.

In truth, part of MY deployment is still going on. I've said before that Sgt. and I view his deployment as something we went through together, neither of us alone, however with that still being the case, our deployment journeys were very different (as they will always be). He got home, we rushed to spend some time together while getting everything ready for school to start and now we're apart again. It almost felt like a shorter version of R&R. I find myself still doing things I did while he was deployed. I still hold onto my phone and make sure it's always within hearing distance... even though I know if I miss his call I can call him back. When I go into the store, I still look for things I think he would enjoy... I was in the store yesterday and found these large bags of Ranch flavored sunflower seeds and a piece of me immediately thought of care packages and what I would put in the next one. I am still buying cards, every time I go to the store. Granted, I still send them to him and he likes getting them, I like sending them... but I also know it is a ghost of my deployment, buying greeting cards for him. I noticed the other day that when I've logged onto my myspace and go to his page, the first thing I always look at is when his last log in was. Not because I'm checking up on him.... but because when he was gone, it was a way to see if he was still alive. If he'd logged in recently, I knew he was, if he hadn't, it would have to be determined another way.

See what I mean though? These things I attached myself to, and trained myself into... they're slowly fading away but they still linger. Like ghosts. Some days, I look back at the deployment and see a mountain we climbed, a journey we took, and I'm proud. Other times, I look at it starring me in the face and am disheartened that the scent still hangs in the air.

Sgt. and I were talking about it this morning. How the "honeymoon" portion of the redeployment is fading away. Which isn't a bad thing, and I don't intend for it to come out in a negative way... we're just trying to settle into normalcy... which now that I think about it, is not something we've ever been in, so maybe it's less settling into and more LEARNING normalcy.

I'm worried that I will forget what it feels like to hear his voice for the first time in two weeks. That sense of relief and longing and happiness. I'm worried that I will lose the ability to "pick my fights" because some things just really aren't worth getting into, not when the person you love only has a few minutes to talk. I'm worried that the appreciation for every single moment I have with him, when I see him walk into a room, when I feel his arms around me, will slip away because it will become "normal." While I look forward to us adjusting to him being home and falling into whatever this normal is.... I want our normal to include those things, I don't want us to forget...

And maybe that's why our deployment ghosts are still hanging around... so that we are reminded there was once a time not long ago (really, like literally a month ago) when a phone call was more than just a phone call and an "I love you" or an "I miss you" was not just the ending to a conversation but rather a reminder to the other that no matter the distance and no matter the obstacle, the other was never far from our heart.

Some days, the ghosts are a good thing.

4 comments:

AFG

Just want to let you know I read your blog all the time and I feel for ya girl, although I've never been through a deployment before, I still feel for ya. Stay strong.

Kristen

When my husband gets back, it will be our first attempt at normalcy. I'm already wondering how we'll react. I'm looking forward to the normalcy, but I'm also worried about it. Good luck to both of you!

(army)Wife

Sometimes I feel like we're still trying to readjust from his first deployment and his second one is less than a week away. Wow, and this just dawned on me, it will be 2 years exactly that he came home from the first deployment that he's leaving for this second deployment.

I don't know, but I feel sometimes like we can't go back to the way we were before a deployment...to normal. I can see it in his face when he's thinking about something he saw or did while he was over there and I know he never had that look before the deployment. And this time around, I worry because I'll know things and experience things with our baby that he never will. Normal for us is just him and me and now we'll have a third little person. We'll have to adjust to that "normal" life.

Sorry for the downer. I know what your talking about though. If someone else has a better answer for getting back to normal, let me know. I'm going to need that answer too :)

S.Lovely

wow, beautifully written. I'm about to experience everything you are going through so I can't say anything profound.

I love the extended metaphor of deployment ghosts, I think that perfectly describes it.