Toughest Job


Brett left yesterday for his trip to the mainland, and saying good-bye brought back all the old feelings and sensations of the times when he was in the Navy and would leave for a deployment. I had forgotten all about the pit that settled in my stomach as he walked away, the way my throat tightened or my dread of evening’s arrival, knowing I would be on my own.

To get my mind on something else after I dropped him off at the airport yesterday, I went to Costco and did our monthly shop. I have to admit that it was kind of nice to drive rather than be the passenger (Brett usually does the driving these days), and push the cart around the store on my own, thinking my own thoughts. It was miserable though when I got home. The house felt hollow, and I had to get all that food up the stairs on my own.

We had silly arguments with each other all day Monday, just like we used to the day before he left on a cruise. For the longest time back then I thought there was something wrong with us – why did we always argue when we knew we wouldn’t be together again for several weeks or months? We eventually learned that the arguments were a fairly common occurence Navy-wide, that they were a way of diffusing the tension brought about by impending separation. Psychologists told us that couples somehow rationalized that if they argued then maybe they wouldn’t miss each other so much.

At least these days we have our cell phones, as well as email, texting, Skype and all sorts of other ways to stay in touch with each other while we’re apart. Thankfully the same is true these days for ships in the Navy. Back when Brett served there was snail mail, period, and you and your spouse could go weeks without hearing anything either from the ship or from home. These days a long-distance call from the mainland to Hawai’i, or vice versa, costs us nothing.

While Brett’s gone I’ll be up early each morning to get the girls up and off to school. I’ll take back the duties around the house that Brett assumed when he retired, while he takes care of things with Meiling in Oregon, and then gets to spend time with his sister. I’ve brushed off my old Navy Wife skills for coping on my own, and will get through the time he’s gone just like I did back in the day. And then he’ll be back.

But I miss him terribly now, the house is too quiet without him, and I can’t wait until he’s home again.



7 thoughts on “Toughest Job

  1. My husband travels quite a bit for his job, not usually longer than a week at a time, but we still find ourselves bickering the day before he leaves. I am used to it but it is quite unsettling. It is something we have joked about, that I’m encouraging him to leave and not miss me :/ nice to know that it’s fairly common, as I have imagined.


    1. I can’t tell you how surprised and relieved I was to find out that we were not the only couple that argued. We fought and bickered over the dumbest stuff, too.


  2. When my stepson went to boot camp last fall, I was very happy to learn that his unit had a Facebook page! I was sitting at the car dealership for a service appointment, and started crying when I saw him lol. After that, we’d constantly check for updates because they posted a lot of pictures of the kids.

    My nephew is in the Navy, and he is five months in to a seven month repositioning cruise that will end in San Diego around Thanksgiving. His ship also has a Facebook page so we can all follow along. And, I get to go meet him at the ship, which is a bucket list kind of thing if you grow up in a Navy family and live near a base!


    1. There are so many great ways now to stay in touch with your spouse/dad/mom/son/daughter/etc. during a deployment. I remember watching a great series (on PBS maybe?) a few years ago called “Carrier” about life aboard an aircraft carrier, and it was so nice to see people being able to call home from the ship, or communicate using email and so forth. Some things about navy life haven’t changed, but the ability to stay in touch with family and friends through technology is a much-welcomed change for the better.


    1. Our arguments were always over such stupid things. I remember once we had a huge fight the day before a deployment about race cars. Race cars! I think we fought about boots once too. Just stupid in hindsight, but we were both bundles of nerves every time before he left.

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