The roller coaster that is deployment continues. Trying to strike some sort of balance of life at home and supporting/worrying about ddeployed children can be very strange.
In the past few weeks I’ve had a real mixed bag of activities and emotions.
The first week of June my husband daughter and I went on a cruise as part of a celebration for my in-laws 55 wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful trip with lots of fun experiences. I even had the chance to visit the resort where my own parents honeymooned in 1958, Caneel Bay.
A small piece of me wondered all week how my deployed son was doing. I wasn’t home so I didn’t have the ever-present startle response when the door bell rings. My younger son was at home working. He had instructions how to reach us in case of an emergency. We never heard from him though.
When we did return, however, I had an email from the Family Readiness Group advising of another loss for the 3-69, the third since January. I don’t know how many of the soldiers in the battalion are injured. In one email the reality of being the family of a deployed soldier came back.
On the heels of that email was the news of four US soldiers being killed near Bagram Airbase near Kabul. It was over 24 hours before I’d learn it wasn’t my son or his battalion. The relief and joy of hearing from my son was tempered by the knowledge that four families were now without their loved ones.
This week we heard from my son quite a bit through private messages on Facebook. Our daughter was thrilled to have a “conversation” with her big brother. She doesn’t talk about it, but her level of concern for her big brother stays very high.
She has grown so much this past school year. I’ll enjoy the surprised look on his face when my son sees his baby sister for the first time when he comes home.
This past weekend in an ongoing effort to help her through her worries, and to support her interest in Indie and alternative music, we attended a concert at a small local venue, Swayze’s. one of the four bands scheduled to appear, Farewell, My Love, had toured with her very favorite band, Late Nite Reading.
When I first saw the band members of Farewell, My Love, I was a little apprehensive. They wear all black clothes and their hair and make up are reminiscent of the theatrics of some bands from the ’80’s and ’90’s. Once I met them all, I learned they are terrific young guys following their dreams. After seeing them for third time at a concert in Jacksonville, I promised the band members that I’d make a homemade dinner for them their next visit to our area.
Saturday night was the time to make due on that promise. We made eggplant parmesan, garlic bread, and chocolate chip cookie bars. Once we arrived at the venue, around 5:00, I set up a card table and put out the food, including a cooler with Red Bull, Coca Cola and water bottles.
It was great fun to see our new friends from the band and meet the other bands too. I didn’t know it was possible for band members to look scarier, then I met the members of Kissing Candace. The lead singer, or as my daughter says, lead screamer, is a guy named Joe. His on stage “look” includes a white contact lens and fake blood.
It may seem odd to write about our concert experience along with my feelings around deployment. That is the odd thing about being the family of a deployed service member. Life does go on at home while they are deployed.
On the outside it may look like we are living a normal life. Our internal emotions and thoughts are never far from our deployed loved one.
Our new friends in the bands may seem like polar opposites from our soldier, their hair and make up especially are a stark contrast, but I see some similarities. Providing dinner for these young men was like taking care of my own son. While they don’t have to worry about running over an IED, or being shot at my insurgents, they are away from the comforts of home for long periods of time. To save money, they will sleep in their vans while driving from one city to the next. I am sure their families miss them too.
So we served them some home cooked food, gave them something to drink and had normal conversations. We talked about our deployed son/brother, and they told us about their families. We took a few photos together. In the midst of a pretty unusual setting we had a slice of normal life.
If only for a few hours, we enjoyed the music and the time with new friends. The roller coaster of being the family of a deployed soldier didn’t seem too bad.