A while back a friend asked me what it was like when my husband Chris was first deployed back in 2009. My first thought was “dang, it’s just a blur”. I mean, our life back then can only be described as organized chaos. Our youngest daughter was just 7 months old at the time. Our middle daughter was 5 and the oldest, 12. We had lived in our current hometown – Longmont CO – less than a year and I knew practically no one. I was busy with the girls and trying to establish my business as a professional photographer in a new town.
Chris had been a member of the Reserves for five years, but had not yet served on active duty. Our idea of military life was having him travel to his annual training for 2 weeks a year. Having him leave on a 12 month assignment was a whole other ball game!
Back then I had no idea what to expect but the unexpected and certainly the surprises came tumbling in! I’m a person who really likes my schedule and I thrive on routine. But the girls and I adapted to the ever present twists and turns and did our best to create a “new normal”.
The images from that year run through my head like pages from an imaginary scrapbook. Snapshots of a part of life that now seems so long ago. Olyse got her first tooth while Dad was away, and took her first steps. Olivia entered kindergarten and Oksanna meandered her way into her early teenage years and the drama known as middle school. I made friends, got my business off the ground – even managed to compete in my first triathlon!
Chris and I did the best we could to help him stay connected with the girls – via email, Skype and occasional phone calls. I even bought a house and moved that year (yes – Chris knew about it :). Thanks again to the internet, he was able to participate by “shopping” the real estate in the area and put in his 2 cents.
We did our best, but no matter how you spin it, single parenting, even while married, is one tough road!
And now, the same story, with different words, is about to unfold again. Next week Chris leaves for another deployment. We’re trying our best to prepare, working together to spruce up the house, clean out the garage and spend time as a family. But there’s only so much we can do. Come hell or high water, his orders are to head out on Feb. 19th.
What will be different this time? For one, the girls are older and a little more independent. I’m now firmly established in the area – both personally and professionally. And this time I won’t leave as much to chance. At least not the communication with Chris, and not the memories. Our goal is to try to keep the family operating as a unit, as much as we can with him overseas. As for the memories, I’m going to document them via this blog and a daily photo journal. A visual representation, for the 299 days he’s gone – and of our shared commitment to keep marching forward. Join us.