Late to pick up my daughter, and racing down the road while running a laundry list of unfinished tasks through my mind, I felt the lyrics of a sappy 90’s hit throw a gut punch and burst the dam of tears I struggled to keep from flowing.
Want you to hold my hand
(Hold my hand)
I’ll take you to a place
Where you can be
(Hold my hand)
Anything you wanna be because
I wanna love you the best that
The best that I can
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.
I was a 47-year-old woman ugly crying over a Hootie and the Blowfish song. The deployment had officially won or at least taken a huge lead in my unspoken, but daily noted tally of KTP versus the deployment. I knew I wasn’t actually crying over the song, but thinking of my husband holding my hand was the push that nudged me into tears.
I was crying for many things. . .
Crying because my furry, four-legged battle buddy left me half way through our 12 months. I hate cancer in any species, and I had to let him go. He was ready, but I was not
Crying because of the mother I was, not the mom I wanted to be
Crying because I was not myself
Crying because I really did want my husband to hold my hand
Crying because there was no way in hell I was losing that 25 lbs
Crying because we were so close to the end of a 12-month separation, but I knew until his toes touched American soil we were not done
Crying because they say lighting doesn’t strike twice, but Afghanistan was the last place my brother-in-law watched the sun rise or spoke the words, “I love you” to my sister
Crying because there are no words to describe the vulnerability you feel while keeping a brave face, living life to the fullest and knowing war is real and training or experience cannot fully protect anyone
Crying because I bit off more than I could chew, and I was leaning on people more than I felt was fair to ask
Crying because after nearly two decades of being married to a Soldier I could admit it was hard sometimes, and I was tired most the time
Crying because I was embarrassed by the fact I was crying. My parents were right up the road, and I was living in the closest place to home I have ever known with lifelong friends and I was still crying
Crying for friends who let me down, and crying for the ones who carried my sometimes heavy weight
Crying because I knew so many others had it worse, and I was an overgrown crybaby
I cried through the song and cried a little more. Then I stopped, blew my nose, fixed my face in the rearview mirror and picked up my daughter from the pool. Luckily allergies are an easy excuse for red eyes during a blistering Georgia summer.
Every single deployment or separation is different. I foolishly thought I had acquired some sort of deployment immunity, but my “been there, done that” t-shirt didn’t offer much refuge. Years of marriage, plenty of separations, deployments, solo parenting gigs and caring for others seemed like the antidote for the deployment I was experiencing, but there is no antidote. There is no magical number of times you say, “see you soon” that prepares you for the void deployment delivers, but in accepting defeat I gained strength. It was a strange juxtaposition; my vulnerability = strength. In admitting my fears, owning my weaknesses and sharing them aloud with trusted confidants they were lessened. My communication with my husband was stronger and my sanity was somewhat intact. My car ride cry fest served a valuable purpose. I still desperately wanted my husband to hold my hand, and my faith was renewed he would.
Don’t be afraid of your tears. Name your fears, speak them, share them with those you trust and don’t carry heavy burdens when open hands are available. Deployments suck. Period. No matter the situation they suck. All caps, bold font SUCK, but a drive with Hootie and the Blowfish reminded me it would be OK. Some days I am not OK and that is OK too, I just crank up the music and let the tears flow.
“Crying is cleansing. There’s a reason for tears, happiness or sadness.” – Dionne Warwick