Every year, I have to say goodbye to both my husbands.
My husband made friends with a single soldier in his language class when we first moved to this duty station. Originally he was just my husband's friend, but over the years I've come to see him as my friend too. While my husband is deployed, I call him my "deployment husband." He does all the things for me that my husband would normally do: lug boxes up and down the stairs when I'm pregnant, check the air in my tires, mow the grass, etc. And in return I would cook or bake for him and try to give him dating advice, though I haven't been on a date in ten years and things have changed A LOT since I was lookin' for love. But every few weeks we'd get together and have dinner or see a movie. My husband called them our Mia Wallace dates, after the platonic date John Travolta and Uma Thurman go on in Pulp Fiction. (And no, I didn't get any foot rubs, though my pregnant legs would've appreciated it!) He sees me as "just one of the guys," and most of the time I felt like his sister, or maybe even his mom: when he and his father came over for Thanksgiving, I bossed him around the kitchen like I would my own husband. And taught him to make gravy.
This friend of ours, my deployment husband, is in a different branch and on a different deployment cycle than my husband. His are always staggered a few months later. So every year, I say goodbye to my husband. And then a few months later, I have to say goodbye to my deployment husband. And while it's not nearly as sad, obviously, it still is another goodbye to another soldier I care about and who helps take care of me while my husband is gone. It's always a low point in the deployment cycle when I have to say goodbye to my stand-in husband too; it makes me feel even more alone.
And who will take down my Christmas lights for me? Or take me to see Ninja Assassin?