J and East the night he left
Saying goodbye is never easy. Whether it is for a night, a week, a month, a year...goodbyes are all the same, and in my eyes, they're never fun or ever easy. This past October, J and his battalion conducted their field exercises in preparation for this deployment. They were scheduled to be gone 2-3 plus weeks depending on how quickly they passed all their "tests" out there. I remember taking him to base that Sunday morning at 3am and crying the whole way home because I didn't want him to be gone 2-3 weeks!! Luckily he was only gone 13 days, but when he got home, you would have thought he had been gone an entire deployment!
When we were preparing for this deployment, I really didn't know how this particular night was going to go. A couple of our close friends in Gulfport offered to go with us, more or less to offer support for me. They offered to drive me back after J left and just be there and provide a shoulder for me to cry on. I debated their offers and while I thought at times I might need that and want that there, I decided that this was something I needed to do by myself. When we took Josh to base to drop him off, it needed to be just me, Josh, and Easton. As hard as it was, that was the right decision.
This is a night I remember like it was yesterday. We left Heather and Ryan's house around 10:40, as J was required to be at base around midnight. Heather and Ryan lived about 30 minutes from base, and we wanted to allot enough time for J to get his stuff (all 20,000 bags they had to take) unpacked and loaded onto the trucks and then some time for us to say goodbye. The drive to base seemed like it toke forever. It was such a strange feeling. Time seemed to be going so slow and so fast at the same time. Easton screamed the almost the whole way which probably made it seem even longer. Luckily, he finally gave out, and the rest of the ride, Josh and I simply held hands. We didn't speak much. We just sat there. We finally made it to base, he got all of his bags out of the car, tagged and loaded on the truck and came back to the car. Luckily, we got about 15 minutes together before he would finally have to leave. I don't remember much of what we said in those 15 minutes. I remember a lot of "I love yous," "I'll miss you more than you'll ever knows," and "Stay safes" were exchanged, but those 15 minutes were the fastest in my life. I wanted them to last forever. I wanted him to just put the car back in drive and drive us back to Heather and Ryan's and us just go back to bed. I knew that couldn't happened, but I hoped it would. The dreaded time finally came. He had to go. We exchanged a kiss, some sappy words, and then we both got out of the car. We hugged harder than we probably ever had before. He picked me up, took me in his arms, and told me everything would be ok. He told me we would make it through it and that he would be home as quickly as he could. I remember in those moments, I wanted to hold him forever. I didn't want him to put me down, and when he finally did, I couldn't let go of him. I didn't want to let go of him. Once I let go, he would leave, and I wouldn't know exactly when I could see him again. He finally broke free from my grip and told me he had to go. He didn't have a choice. I knew that, but I wanted to keep him in my arms and keep him safe. Once he left, I would lose control, and I wasn't ready for that! We said one last goodbye and he walked away. I stood at the car door for a moment and just watched him walk away. I finally made myself get back in the car, but for the longest time, I couldn't go anywhere. At this point, I wasn't crying, it was almost like I was frozen. J was finally out of sight and that was when I lost it. I just started crying, and when I say crying, I mean full on bluddery crying. I was to the point I was struggling to breath at points. I called one of my best friends to talk to calm down. She finally calmed me down and I forced myself to leave base. Our friend, Jenny, had offered for me to come by on my way back to Heather and Ryan's just to talk. I sat there for about an hour and finally willed myself to leave. I wasn't sure I was ready to go back and go to bed by myself and realize that he was really gone and wasn't coming back.
But it couldn't just be that easy. J texted me on the way and told me they had pushed their time back by 18 hours.....18 more hours. It was so hard to sit there throughout the next hours and know that he was less than 30 minutes from me, yet I couldn't go see him. But that changed. That next morning, J called and said that he needed me to bring him lunch. While I was so excited to see him again, I was dreading having to say that long goodbye again. We got ready, drove to base, and for one last time, I got to see my husband. We got to talk for about 30 minutes, but then that dreaded time came again. I have to say, saying goodbye wasn't quite as hard this time, but I honestly think I was just numb to the whole situation. He got to keep his phone with him the rest of the day, and we texted every chance we got. Most didn't say anything more that the normal sappy stuff, but we wanted that to be the last things we got to say to each other! Around 6 that night, the final texts started coming. They were loading the plane, they would be taking off soon, and then he would be gone.
It was the longest days of my life. I was drained, I was emotionally "out of it." My husband had finally left. People kept telling me "Oh, it's really not that hard.....I could do it...." and all I wanted to say to them was "I will gladly let you take my place...." I can honestly say, this was one of the hardest days of my life. But looking back, I can say I am also proud of how far we have come and how much stronger I have become!