The Danger Factor


Soon our family will again stand at “deployment strength.” For an Army unit that means all the people they need for the mission are there. For our family it means the person we need most is missing.

We’ve done deployment before, so I know all about being upset – really upset – that my Soldier is leaving.  But this time he’s not headed overseas, and I’m feeling, well, ambivalent.

This time around he’s going to a school for what could be a very long time. We will hear from him very, very little (as in – maybe three times the whole time he’s gone). We have no FRG. I know very few people at our current duty station. He’s been home a lot recently and I’ve gotten used to having him here – both for company and help with our son. By all accounts I should be pretty upset about this.

But I’m not.

Am I hard hearted? Granted, I am  sad that he's leaving and I have shed a tear or two -- but I'm not melt-down-cry-all-the-time upset. Have I managed to reach the magical place in which I am a-OK with absences? Does that place even exist?

I’ve devoted a lot of thought to this strange phenomenon over the last few days and I’ve determined that the key lies in the biggest difference between deployment and school: the danger factor.

When he leaves for Afghanistan I know, from experience, that there is a very real possibility that I will never see him again. I am not OK with that. But school? He’ll be back … someday. And it just doesn’t feel as scary.

Is anyone with me on this?

The side affect of being oh-so-chill with impending “good-byes” is figuring out how to not be so cool as to come off, well, cold. When I tell people he’s leaving and they ask “are you OK with that?” and I shrug and say “yeah, it’s all good,” I can tell they think I’m lying. And when my husband eye-balls me for signs of an impending epic meltdown and there isn’t any, I wonder if he thinks that I just don’t care anymore.

Part of me, of course, suspects that my relative composure is just a defense mechanism that will melt away once he is out of sight, followed by complete collapse and the consumption of an entire container of Ben and Jerry's.

But I hope that in the end putting on my game face and dealing with a separation that is really not as big of a deal as it could be is, for me, just part of being a military spouse. Others can and do handle their separations the best they know how. But in this house the top way to get through is to play it like it’s any other day.

But if (or … um … when) that plan crumbles, I’ll let you know.

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