Friday, November 15, 2013

Thank You For Being Strong

Now that we're a few months in and far enough removed from the day Scott left for deployment, I decided that it was something worth writing about. It's definitely a day that I draw from my memory often. 

Deployment day is also known as Zero Day. I'm not really sure where the term comes from. I even tried googling it to no avail. But if I had to guess, I'd say that it's called Zero Day because it's in the middle of two countdowns. You countdown (regretfully) to the day your loved one deploys. Taking stock of how much time you have left together. And then Zero Day, the dreaded day, comes. And then you begin another countdown. This time taking stock of how much more time you have to spend apart. 

As Zero Day approached for us, and I'm sure every other military family who has faced one, we didn't get to enjoy and appreciate our last weeks together. Between our different work schedules, at sea trainings Scott spent away from home, and all of the shopping and preparation that had to be done, the last week before deployment passed way too quickly. It snuck up on me. 

The day before deployment, there were these moments where my mind started to process and hold on to everything that was happening. Realizing...this will be the last time I get to snuggle with my husband, the last time I get to kiss him, the last time I get to sleep in the same bed as him for 8 or more months. I found myself starting to tear up at times, but I did everything I could to just enjoy and cherish those moments. 

We had to take all of Scott's things to his ship that night. That was the first time I had seen it. And as I sat beside the dock and watched the sunset, I remember wondering how something so beautiful could make me so sad.

When we woke up on Zero Day, there was still a lot to be done. We had to do some last minute shopping and packing. Scott had a meeting a couple of hours before they were set to leave. So I sat in the car on base waiting for him. Not really knowing that there were only a matter a minutes we were going to get to spend together for a while. Scott had told me that there was a chance that he would be able to get off the ship that night and I could come and see him one last time. When he came back to the car, he told me that he didn't think it was going to happen. And that was the first time it hit me. This is it. As you can imagine, I hadn't been prepared for that and I couldn't hold back the tears.

I remember Scott saying, "you've done so well so far." And I knew I had to suck it up and enjoy those moments. So we sat in the car for a couple of minutes before it was time to go. I'm not a pretty crier, and so as we got out of the car I knew everyone would be able to see my red and puffy eyes and know that I was already losing it. I saw another couple walking to the "send off" area, both wearing sunglasses...and I was able to joke with Scott, blaming him for not suggesting I wear some too! (Helpful tip to those who might have to go through a military send off....wear sunglasses!!!) But we grabbed his bag and went to where most of the other families already were. I met a couple of his "buddies" and their wives, and then we sat down for a little while. 

I remember sitting there and watching as other families sat with their loved ones. Knowing that they were in the exact same moment I was in, but feeling like they were all handling it much better. I felt like I was the only one having to remind myself to breathe and hold back the tears. I remember starting to feel like I had never been so ill-equipped to handle a moment...and I remember the dread that began to overwhelm me as I thought about having to stand there alone and wave that big white bus goodbye. 

The Lord was kind to me and one of the other guys stopped and told Scott that he had already sent his family off. That it was much easier for all of them that way. And that when the time came for him to get on that bus, there was nothing keeping him from being able to leave. We both thought that seemed like a really good (amazing, if you ask me!) idea, so Scott walked me back to the car. We only had a few more minutes until he had to get into formation, so we shared some far too brief last moments together and he shut my car door for me and walked away. I remember only being able to put my head in my hands and then see through the tears enough to put the car into reverse and then drive. I cried most of the drive home.

At that point, I knew I had two options. I could do what I should, and just try to occupy my mind and get things done. Or...I could do what I wanted to, and just go and lie in my bed and cry for the rest of the night.

Ultimately, I decided to take the high road. Which ended up being a good idea...

Scott ended up being wrong. He called me to let me know that I could come down to the ship and see him for a little while. He was afraid that it would toy with my emotions too much, having to say goodbye twice in one day....but he ended up letting me know. 

So we were able to share another hour and a half together, just sitting together and talking, something we hadn't gotten to do much of in the weeks leading up to that day. And I have to say, I think it was just what my heart needed. It was that little bit of closure that we needed. And such a sweet, sweet blessing to just be able to sit and enjoy our time together without having to worry about all of the things that still needed to get done. We said our final goodbyes, and I remember being able to smile and laugh and joke around. I was able to smile instead of cry as Scott walked back to his ship. But what I remember most were some of the final words Scott said to me as he was leaving. "Thank you for being strong." 

Never have such simple words held so much meaning. Those five words have carried me through what I call "bad deployment days." Those days where it takes everything you have to keep your head up. And I'd like to think that was Scott's way of telling me that he knew I was going to be okay. And that not having to worry about me being okay was going to make him okay, too. So that's what I hold onto. On those days when I feel like giving up or letting the misery have me for just a while, I think about this man, my hero of a Marine, thanking ME for being strong. And I, too, know I'm going to be okay. 


  1. Love you Katyi! You are a beautiful and STRONG woman! Keep your head up and your eyes on God! Before you know it, Scott will be home!!

  2. Thank you, Aunt Janice! I will for sure. And I definitely looking forward to the day he comes home.