The day my husband left for deployment I was unexpectedly calm. We’ve got this, I thought smugly while couples around us clung to each other in emotional embraces.
The words Check it out ladies: First timer here may have passed through my head as other wives wept and wilted.
I was born for this. I felt certain as I greeted our family on the pier after saying goodbye, not a tear in sight.
I watched the ship pull away, snapped patriotic photos with flags and flowers in hand, enjoyed brunch with our family and then returned home to tackle the twin tasks that would be my mainstay for months: checking my e-mail and going to the post office.
Later that afternoon as I squeezed my new flat rate boxes into the closet, the doorbell rang. On the doorstep was our octogenarian neighbor, a military wife of almost 30 years. “Kim?” she asked, not remembering my name.
“No, Aimee,” I responded.
“Oh, I could have sworn it was Kim, well don’t get old, it just ruins your memory. Anyway, are you okay?”
Are you okay? That was all it took.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine.” I nodded my head vigorously but it was too late. The tears were already falling, the prelude to a wild, raspy cry. I ran my hand across my face. “I don’t know why this is happening, I’m really fine.”
“You wouldn’t be fine if this didn’t happen,” my neighbor said.
In the time since that first meltdown I have realized that emotions, especially deployment emotions, are like hiccups. They pop up when you least expect them, sometimes fleeting and sometimes lasting longer than you think possible. Here are nine more of my personal lessons learned during deployment.
1. Sleepytime Tea can and should be ordered in bulk.
2. The perils of sleeping with your cellphone next to your head are many (see above point) but the opportunity to roll over to a message from your loved one is worth it.
3. Replace your air filters before calling the HVAC company.
4. Skype is quite temperamental but Viber has your back.
5. Buy a taller ladder than you think you need (this will come in handy when replacing those air filters).
6. You will not accomplish everything on your “deployment goals” list but you will accomplish some things you never thought to include.
7. Sometimes you’ll actually look forward to Monday mornings with their structure and routine.
8. Eating like a bachelor is okay, living like one is not.
9. People will do amazing things for you. They will treat you like family, surprise you with care packages and let you prattle on about your spouse for hours. They will be the physical presence you crave.
And if you’re lucky, they may even remind you that you’re just fine when you need it most.
Those are my deployment lessons -- what are yours? 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 learning some unexpected homecoming lessons!