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.