They’ve gone away

I met the young wife of a soldier the other day as she stood by a road trying to catch a last glimpse of her husband as he rode by in a bus. He was leaving on a year-long deployment, and she was waiting with their two little kids to wave one last time. She was wearing a very brave smile.

It broke my heart a little bit, because I remember doing the same thing when I was sending my husband out to sea. Throughout a decade of service in the U.S. Navy, I wore a lot of those smiles. It was the unwritten rule of being a good Navy wife — you don’t send your husband out to sea with tears on your face. You saved those until later, when no one could see them.

The life of a military spouse is not easy. You try to be strong for the kids, but they are just as sad at night as you are. Once you get them comforted and sleeping, there’s no one left to do the same for you.

I suppose being a military parent is tough also, but at least you expect your kids to leave home one day, so it seems more natural when it happens.

Be strong, all you wives, husbands, moms and dads of soldiers and sailors. Lean on someone from time to time, dwell on the good times and not the fear, hug the little ones an extra time or two each day and don’t be afraid to talk to someone when life seems overwhelming.

If you think no one will understand what you’re going through, feel free to drop me a line. I’ve been there.

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