Sunday, May 4, 2014

Matters of the Heart

Our garage had been cleaned out like never before.  Our front yard was manicured and all the springtime tune-ups around the house had been completed.  I mean all projects big and small were checked off our list.  Mike had even spent time alone with each one of the children in preparation.  I suppose you could say we were ready for this deployment.

It's been 4 weeks and 4 days since he's been gone.  When I think back to the time before he left, I am truly happy about the "things" that got completed.  But what about the simple, or not so simple, matters of the heart?  Sure, we talked about how we were going to miss each other and we smiled about how well things had been going in our home and between us.  I reassured him that we would be fine while he was gone, that I could handle things.  He reassured me of his love and that he would work hard for us.

It's true, military separations are nothing new to us after 14 years of being in the service, but goodbyes are still goodbyes no matter how you look at them.  I took my experiences from prior deployments and felt too comfortable repeatedly telling myself:
-It's only for X long.
- It could always be worse.
- I know what needs to be done.
My personal favorite:
*It's no big deal, I've done this before.*
As I sit here writing this thinking over the last 32 days Michael has been gone, I so wish I had not been so flippant about it all.  It's true we had a checklist of things to do and we went through it and got everything done that needed to be done...except one.  We never embraced the feelings that were stirring on the inside;  the sadness, the dread, the fear, or the unavoidable loneliness that we both knew would soon come.  We never dealt with the matters of our hearts.  Now looking back, here a just a few things I wish we had done differently/more of. 
      1.  Be in the moment.  It's easy to get lost in our thoughts trying to think ahead to the "what if's" and the "then what".  Make the time together just about you two.  If you are feeling overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of him leaving, just talk to him about it.  There's a good chance that he is too.  By just putting it all out on the table, nobody has to feel that they're holding anything in and forcing a fake smile.  The best part is that the two of you can then share a sweet moment together.

    2.  Appreciate those little things.  Do as many things as you can together.  I must say, we were fortunate as a couple, that our children were at school during the day, so he and I could do things together.  Some were on the to-do list, but others were just simple things like.  We would take the children to school and then grab some coffee.  If I needed to get some groceries, he'd tag along with me.  Once he even made a surprise trip to Lowe's and bought me 2 new knock-out rose bushes to plant in the front yard - just because he knows I love them.  I wish I could say we planted them together, but we didn't.  I just admired him work ;)

   3.  Pray and pray together.  In the beginning praying together was a bit intimidating for us.  I was always nervous about how I would sound; would the words come out right?  Would I flat out sound silly?  I heard from one of the pastors in our church, that no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, because it is going to feel that way in the beginning, you just have to start.  So we did.  I fumbled over my words quite a bit in the beginning.  Even now I don't sound a thing like Billy Graham or Joyce Mayer, but the words that I speak are from my heart.  There's something very intimate about Mike knowing firsthand what is coming from my heart to God's ears.

As I'm writing this, I realize we did do a lot together before he left (not just our "lists")  I'm thankful for that.  Perhaps our heart cannot ever truly be prepared for the absence of the one you love.  Thank you God for giving me a husband whom I love so deeply.


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