Deployment makes for long days and longer nights. I’m used to long days with my three children. Much of the time the older two are awake with the sun and demanding breakfast before I can tell granola from frosted flakes (much to their chagrin). The youngest is awake earlier still. I stumble downstairs, three little souls requiring my close attention, and I put one foot in front of the other until sundown. Sometimes I even show them how to make cool stuff like Lego ziplines, “jellyfish” in jars, and homemade Oreos. I feed them, I hug them, and I try to wear them out before they wear me out.
After my little ones are tucked in bed I am used to sitting on a couch next to a handsome blond, snacking on chocolate chips, and watching Agents of SHIELD, Fixer Upper, or Fresh Off The Boat. I’m used to telling the aforementioned blond about the food that was not eaten at lunch, the blinds that were broken during “nap” time, the reasons the baby and I have changed clothes three times since noon, and the fact that I am tired. So very tired. Then I’m used to snuggling against him until our youngest demands a midnight snack.
But right now instead of talking about my day, I send a few text messages and pictures for him to peruse when he wakes in a few hours. Instead of eating chocolate chips and watching television with him, I eat chocolate chips and work on my novel or do the chores that he isn’t home to do. Instead of rolling over in bed and snuggling against my favorite person, I stuff a pillow behind me and pretend it makes me feel better.
We are a little unusual in that we knew before we got married that this was the life we were called to. I have been mentally preparing for this first major separation for a decade, but it does not make the nights shorter. What it does is make me fight for a positive attitude even when I don’t know how I’m going to get up in the morning and do it all again without him. I tell myself I can do this and God called us to this ministry for a reason. That He made me strong, independent, and capable. That I can mow my own lawn, kill my own spiders, and wrangle three children at the commissary. But I am still lonely.
I know he misses Netflix and chocolate chips as much as I do. He sends me emails during the night so I wake up to encouragement and sweet memories. He sends European chocolate shaped like hippos in the mail. And he texts me to work hard on my novel, to keep training for my first 5k, to take a deep breath and check another day off the calendar. He tells me he is proud of me. He sends me music, smiles, and love from across the miles, and my heart wears it like battle armor.
Yes, nights are long. But months are fleeting, and homecoming is sweet. There is redemption working through these long days, and I am called to be active, not passive. So I’m going to go squish yet another spider and send him the picture.
“Redeem the time for the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16