I met my husband when I was a senior in college. He was in the ROTC program and had one year left of school. I never thought that I would end up with a guy in the military, but sometimes life surprises you. After being apart for a year while he finished school, and then another six months while he went to Basic Officer Leader’s Course at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, I was so excited to finally marry him and settle into our new life together. Then he got the news – his unit would be deploying to Afghanistan sometime in 2014. While I always knew there was a chance that he could be deployed, I never thought it would actually happen. Fast forward a year, and the time has come.
The send-off ceremony for his unit was at the end of May. The unit marched into the auditorium calling a cadence while family members watched and took videos and pictures. I’ve seen him in this setting before, but knowing that they were preparing to go to war made it ten times more emotional. After the ceremony, we were able to spend the day together until he had to report back to formation at 8:00pm. We ended up having a great day together, but the hours quickly dwindled and in the back of our minds we knew what was coming.
Saying ‘see you later’ (never ‘goodbye’) to him was an experience I never thought I would have. It took almost 10 minutes just to leave him. You want to get as many hugs in as possible and then you don’t want to let go. It’s hard. It didn’t quite hit me until I rolled up the window and drove away, and saw him walking away in my rear view mirror. That’s when it became real. Few people actually understand the feeling of sending a loved one into a war zone. It is one of those things that you cannot relate to unless you have experienced it first-hand. I have a great support system in my family, his family, and all my friends. But sometimes, you just want to talk to someone who is going through the same thing or who has done it before. That’s what will get me through this next year – talking about it with those that can relate, and keeping myself busy with work, school, friends, and family.
This is my new normal. Adjusting to life without him for the next year won’t always be easy. I know there will be times that getting out of bed will be hard. However, getting out of bed in the morning means I will be one day closer to his return home. One day closer to a lifetime with my best friend by my side. One day closer to being able to jump in his arms as he is still in uniform and fresh off the bus from the airport. That feeling of excitement and joy and relief when I see him will make this all worth it. Until then, I’ll pour myself a glass of red wine and cheers to living my new normal.
This 4th of July, when you’re celebrating by grilling out, enjoying alcoholic beverages, and watching fireworks, please take a moment to remember all the men and women who are not able to spend that day with their families. Don’t take your time with your family on this holiday for granted. Remember that there are still people voluntarily donning that uniform and putting their lives on the line for our country each and every day, fully aware of the sacrifices they may have to make. Be safe, put down your computer and cell phones, and enjoy every minute of your time with your family. And if you can find the time, say ‘thank you’ to all those men and women who have served and are still serving, who so wish they could be home celebrating alongside you.
About the author – Hire Heroes USA employee, Cori Williams
Cori is the Program Coordinator of Career Events at Hire Heroes USA. She and her husband were married last year. He is currently serving on his first deployment since joining the Army. They reside in Atlanta and have one four-legged child named Scout.