Friday, May 17, 2013

5 Things I'm Glad I Did During Deployment


It is very difficult for me to look at this past year and find good from John's deployment. I'm a very optimistic person, but this deployment has infuriated me for political reasons as well as personal ones. Acknowledging positive outcomes from this year actually feels a little like a betrayal to those feelings and myself. However, when I look back at the last year, there are a lot of things I did that I ended up being really happy about. I collected the top five for you.

I'm glad that during this deployment, I...

1. ...wrote 365 letters to John. Well, okay. I don't have 365 letters written... yet. But I certainly will by the time this deployment is history. I wrote John a letter every day (and on the days that I missed, I wrote make-up letters), starting with the first day he was gone. It's romantic, maybe a little indulgent and goofy, and something we're both going to treasure throughout our lives. If you're going to do this, I'd suggest numbering the envelopes so they can be read in order. It also helps if the letters get lost-- at least one time, one of the letters I sent John had a nice, sunny, half-year vacation in Cuba before finally making it to Afghanistan. 

2. ...liked John's command's Facebook page. This is so simple, but was (and continues to be) so meaningful. John's command mainly posts articles and albums of happenings on base, so it's a great way to get news that would most likely not be reported on anywhere else. Seeing a photo of John show up randomly in my newsfeed (even if it's just part of his ear or the back of his head) gives me butterflies, and has been one of the best randomly occurring surprises in this deployment. I really started missing seeing John as a person with more than just a chest, neck, and head about three months into the deployment. Skype is a miracle of modern technology, but there is something awesome about seeing him standing somewhere, or running a 5K on base, or participating in a ceremony. And, of course, there's the added bonus of sharing the photos on Facebook and being generally obnoxious about how amazing John is.

3. ...connected with others online.
I don't live near John's base, which puts me very far away from large groups of people going through deployment too. I also don't come from a military family, so everything military has been completely new. Especially at the beginning of the deployment, I found it really helpful to connect with other people a few different ways online.

First of all, I started this blog-- and it's been awesome meeting people from all walks of life. It might be a little dorky, but I'm glad that I chronicled the last year this way.

There's also a thriving community of military significant others on Twitter. Many of them choose to be anonymous, but I've gained a lot from the friendships I've forged with people who are not "anons." While some people have found that there's a lot of online "drama," I've found a lot of support and kindness.

Finally, I found a lot wonderful online resources that were very helpful in figuring out what the heck to expect and how other people cope with so much uncertainty. I hesitate to list anyone here for fear of missing a blog (and if I missed you, I am so sorry!), but if you are looking specifically for deployment help, these blogs and websites are fantastic (and their authors are, too):

NextGen MilSpouse (An online magazine that is down-to-earth and covers a wide range of topics relating to military life.)
Dear Deployment
SassBritches (Formerly Deployment Problems and the Military Life)
Hurry Up & Wait
Love From Home
Army Wife Housewife (Formerly Army Wife & Co.)

4. ...bought two 16 GB SD cards. 
Costco had an amazing deal on SD cards a week or so after John deployed. I bought two and used them to videotape things that I know John wanted to see--  the Blue Band's pregame and halftimes, the reception of one of his best friend's weddings, driving through his hometown, a thunderstorm, and a lot of dorky commentary by yours truly. You get the idea. I sent it to him at the halfway mark and he said he watched the entire card in one sitting. Do this. You will not regret it.

5. ...checked off items on my 100 in 365 list . Most likely, I won't get through my entire list by the time that August rolls around, but I've done an awful lot on it. There's just something about checking things off a list that makes things more manageable and more exciting. (I know, I know: I'm a geek.)
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