Why didn't you tell me I'd develop a case of deployment brain? When my friend was six months pregnant, she woke up, dressed and drove to work on a Saturday morning. She thought it was a Friday. When she arrived at her office the parking lot was empty.
“Pregnancy brain,” she said, when my forehead creased in confusion.
At the time I didn’t understand this kind of brain blip. I wasn’t married or even dating my husband. Things were predictable (if a bit boring) and I certainly never confused a Friday and a Saturday. All of that changed when barely one year into our marriage deployment neared.
I should admit that I went into the deployment feeling pretty confident. Having lived alone for many years and rarely so much as forgotten to pay a bill on time, I thought I was, as they say in the corporate press releases I wrote for a living, “uniquely positioned” to tackle this challenge.
And I was ... before deployment brain set in.
In the weeks leading up to goodbye day, I had unexpected brain blips in addition to the expected swirl of emotions. I forgot to put in for my pre-deployment vacation time at work. I asked my husband the same questions over and over. I spent untold amounts of time looking for my cellphone, my handbag and my keys.
“I feel like I’m losing my mind,” I said to a friend after making a wrong turn on a familiar drive, “do you think something could be seriously wrong?”
I fretted to my husband on the morning of his departure when I muddled the names of other sailors and barely recognized a card I had created and sent for the occasion. Finally in a panic I blurted out, “At this point the deployment will be a success if I simply recognize you at the homecoming.”
He laughed at the ridiculousness of my anxiety and then, seeing how absurd it was myself, I laughed as well.
I now laugh the same way when I realize I have spent two minutes trying to open his car with the wrong key, when I pull clothes from the washer and notice that I have used fabric softener instead of detergent and when the AC repair person explains that the system isn’t working because I’ve never changed the air filters.
I laugh because the things I am forgetting are not important. I go to work (on the right days, even), pay bills, fill the fridge and the gas tank. I remember the things that really matter, like why I married this man who makes me laugh, and why I’ll muddle through deployment brain while I wait for his return.
Aimee Lorge lives in Virginia where she is a full-time writer at a Fortune 50 company and occasional college instructor. Her favorite vocation is as wife to her active duty Navy Supply Corps husband. She looks forward to welcoming him home and bidding farewell to her deployment brain!
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