Lessons Learned Throughout My Husband's Deployment
He wore blue jean shorts, a red, white and blue striped polo style shirt, and a pair of white Nike tennis shoes when he strolled into the leasing office at Pebble Creek Apartments. At six feet, six inches tall, he towered over me as I rose from the table where I had just signed my lease for my new apartment. As I looked into his smiling hazel eyes, he told me his name was Blaine Condreay. I knew instantly he was my destiny. I was a divorced, single mother of two young children who were the center of my life. He was a police officer, a soldier in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, and the Courtesy Patrol Officer at Pebble Creek Apartments; he was divorced with no children. We became friends very quickly and he soon became a huge part of my life. Blaine and I spent of all of our free time together. When we were not together, we talked on the telephone for hours like a couple of teenagers. To everyone around us it became obvious that we were completely in love, even before we realized it ourselves. My children adored him and within a year they were calling him Daddy Blaine. We planned to marry in October of 2003 and had begun planning our wedding. However, in April of that year, Blaine was told he was going to be deployed. Blaine was a Crew Chief on a medical evacuation helicopter being sent to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. We had known deployment was a possibility; nonetheless, we were overwhelmed especially since he would deploy in July. Blaine and I immediately decided to marry before he deployed, so on May 1, 2003 we were married by the Police Chaplain at the police department. The days flew by in a frenzy of activity to prepare him for his departure. We also had to prepare my six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter for his absence. Finally, the devastating day arrived and he had to leave. The children and I delivered Blaine to his unit, tearfully said goodbye, and watched as he flew out of our lives for the next twelve months. Frightened and alone, I knew I had to be strong for my children. Time seemed to crawl for the first month he was gone. I spent every moment I was not at work spending quality time with my children. Blaine called as often as he could, which was usually at three o'clock in the morning because of the time difference between Afghanistan and Oklahoma. Every phone call was like I had received the best Christmas present ever given. The months continued to crawl by until we received the happy news that he would be home in April of 2004, just in time for our first Wedding Anniversary. His homecoming, on April 29, 2004, was one of the most joyful events in my life. Having spent most of our first year of marriage apart, Blaine and I celebrated our first Wedding Anniversary quietly, alone together, and happier than ever. Once I reflected on the time Blaine was deployed, I realized his deployment was an important learning experience and had taught me three life lessons: independence, friendship and faith.
Though I had always thought of myself as an independent person, having a husband deployed to a war zone was an important learning experience, and made me fully understand the meaning of independence. With Blaine gone, I realized how much I had depended on him for little things such as maintenance around the house, he entertained the children while I made dinner, and many other small tasks that were thrust upon me during his absence. It seemed as though the house we had purchased knew Blaine was not there to take care of it. Within three months of his departure, the air conditioner broke, one of the toilets needed repair, and the lawnmower broke down. Blaine had taken a cut in pay when he was deployed, so the repairs fell to me to complete rather than hire expensive professionals. I replaced the faulty circuit board in the air conditioning system, though it...
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