“If something happens to me, I want you to move on.” As Veteran’s Day is on the horizon, I think of this conversation with a smile.
I was on my hands and knees, cleaning out the bedroom closet. My kids were 8, 5, and 9 months old. I hadn’t slept in months. My baby was on a two-hour sleep/eat rotation, adapted from conception, and I hadn’t fully combed my hair in months.
We were drowning in debt. I knew the collection callers by first name. I couldn’t rob Peter to pay Paul because Paul was broke. I think he had a collection agency too.
My son was slated to start kindergarten this fall. Shortly after, I would see my husband off to war.
“Right,” I replied. “Eligible men will line up at the door for a chance at all this.”
Mentally, the separation had begun. It’s a survival skill taught to soldiers. Leave your family before you have to leave your family. Unfortunately, wives aren’t always let in on the separation secret. I was just praying for a fast forward to reunion button while grasping to create special moments in the time we had left.
Yet, in the midst of difficulty of deployment, to say we were touched by the hand of God would be an understatement. I know this isn’t something every spouse can say. But this is my story.
The day he left, we were sitting in an Applebee’s parking lot in Freeport, Illinois. We had just spent our last day together. At this point, we would say goodbye not knowing when we would see each other next.
My third grader was in tears. Okay, so was I .
He opened the door of the van in an attempt to console her when our kindergartener spoke from the back. “Dad, Chloe is just afraid this is the last time she is going to see you before you die. But, I know Jesus is going with you to kick some bad guy butt.” The wisdom of 5-year-old boys.
Jesus is going with you. We are going in to battle but he will win the war. In this year of deployment, we were firsthand witness of God’s provisional hand.
I saw God provide for us financially. We parted drowning in debt and when he returned, all of our debt had been paid including a car note. Plus, we were able to place a small fund in savings. Had he been home, he would have been laid off. I can’t imagine the outcome.
I saw God provide for us through people. Free meals from anonymous strangers. A new porch and yard clean up. A shared hug and tears from the wife of a Vietnam Vet who understood the very real emotion of going it alone. A drive way plowed clear of snow. Cut grass and prayers. Lots and lots of prayers.
God provided protection to the unit. A few injuries, but everyone came home safe.
God provided us opportunities for service. Not every soldier comes home and every time an announcement crossed our email, I made sure their family received a card on our behalf. It’s not much in the way of comfort, but I wanted other families to know they were not hurting alone. I was able to call out to other spouses and offer encouragement through our family readiness group.
As a children’s ministry leader, I was given an eye-opening awareness of exactly how hard it is to be a single parent. Tender places of understanding replacing the hardness of my heart toward those who are trying so hard to go it alone.
Then there were little surprises along the way. He was able to come home and celebrate our baby girl’s first birthday. A two page centerfold of him in Golf Magazine. Apparently the war on terrorism is fought with Nine Irons these days.
I learned saying goodbye never gets easier. I learned to appreciate every part of my man and our marriage. Most importantly, I learned walking in agreement with God is the most amazing adventure you will ever travel, even when the terms and conditions are less than favorable.
Samantha Landrus is a Marketing Director in a Supportive Living Senior Community by day and a blogger by night. She is married to high school sweetheart, David and they raise three kids as well as a newly adopted Diva wonder-dog name Zoe. You can find her fighting her quest for perfection by visiting her at Clipping the Wings of Supermom and you can also connect with her on Twitter.
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