Why didn’t you tell me I’d miss the little things so much? We all know we will miss our deployed spouse. That’s why we cry when we drop them off in front of the bus station, airport or National Guard armory.
We cry because we know we will miss them and because they will miss so much of our lives. But what we will miss the most is impossible to pin point until months later.
It’s November now, which means it has been nearly 10 months since I last stood in the same room with my husband, Ty and almost that long since we have been in the same time zone. He has missed birthdays and new babies, Easter egg hunting and Halloween.
He has missed quite a few “big” events this year. But the things I miss the most are not those photo-album worthy milestones. It’s the essence of him that seems to be the farthest away; the little Ty-isms that made up our everyday love before everything went all multicam and Afghanistan happened.
My husband is a big guy, referred to by Italian soldiers as “The Giant American.” He is 6’8’’ in socks and, I have to admit, it was his height and impressive physique that attracted me to him in the beginning. Ty looks a bit like a warrior dressed like a cowboy who is having a bad day and he has a habit of inadvertently intimidating other men.
When first sizing Ty up, one tends to make all sorts of assumptions. Some of them are accurate but most of them couldn’t be farther from the truth. Getting to know the little things about Ty is like moving into a seemingly predictable house and discovering a secret passageway to something completely unexpected.
- Ty is a patchwork of little unexpected surprises. He sings in the car … loudly.
- He makes up his own lyrics when he forgets the words and laughs at his own jokes.
- His favorite movie is “The Notebook” because it reminds him of his grandparents and he unapologetically nerds out on “The Smurfs.”
- He is deeply kind and has a heart for people with disabilities.
- He hates it when I put unmatched socks in our sock drawer and scolds me for overloading the washing machine.
- He steals my pillows (aggressively) in his sleep and knows exactly what to say to make me laugh, even when I’m sure I’ll be mad at him forever.
As I get closer and closer to his homecoming I realize that, before this year apart, all of these things were right in front of me and, although I definitely enjoyed them, I didn’t cherish them the way I do now.
This deployment, and every deployment, poses the opportunity to develop gratitude and, in many ways, fall in love with your soldier all over again.
When Ty comes home, it won’t be the big vacations or the holiday celebrations that will thrill me the most. It will be all the little day-to-day things that will fill up my heart; things I will never take for granted ever again.
Elizabeth Tyler is a California Army National Guard spouse. She and her husband Ty live in Northern California, a couple of hours from the Oregon border.
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