Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The joys of living apart

“Long Distance Relationship”.  Sounds doable, right?  You and your other half aren’t in the same house, town, or time zone.  For a couple still in school or not yet married it’s pretty common.  Unfortunately, if your SO is in the military, it’s more common than you think with orders that don’t include the family due to medical circumstances, being assigned to an area that is amazingly hostile, or any reason in between.

In a little over a week, our family will have been in a long distance relationship for over 2 years.  We didn’t know at first.  Donovan went back into the service and did “remedial boot camp”, then went through the shortest job training they could give him.  Spring of 2009 had him texting me that “we got Germany”.  I was excited and a little scared.  I’ve never left our country, the furthest East I’ve ever been is Illinois.

So he came home on leave before leaving for Europe and we had a whirlwind visit of appointments and paperwork at Nellis.  It seemed like as soon as he got here he had to leave again.  And as summer dragged into fall, I felt like we were all but forgotten.  The first stipulation to him “sending” for us was that the van had to run.  I got it running.  Since then, it’s been decided that the van wouldn’t pass the rigorous inspection process. 

That winter he told me that he’d be deploying in 2010.  He’d already had me move myself and 3 children into a 3 bedroom walk-up.  I thought “big deal, he’s never going to see it, this place is temporary”.  We’re nearly at a year and a half of this bit of “temporary”.  Thanksgiving hit and I realized that with the deployment, I didn’t know when or if I was going to see him again, that he’d missed EVERYTHING in 2009, was going to miss it all for 2010, and most of 2011.  Including Marion’s first birthday and first steps.  I lost it.  I ended up in the ER because I couldn’t stop crying.  EVERYTHING was a trigger.

So Donovan got to come home for a month.  Nothing was really resolved – no paperwork was turned in.  Beckie’s father was still holding on to paperwork that we needed and would for another 6 weeks.  So Donovan’s CO decided that instead of trying to get the family there, maybe it would be better for Donovan to get a compassionate reassignment.  That spring it was denied on the grounds that command sponsorship hadn’t been applied for or denied.

Donovan came home for another 2 weeks in spring 2010.  It was a good visit, the kids loved it, but by this time, with only seeing daddy in dribs and drabs for a year and a half, he was more an exciting guest than a parent.  Thanksgiving was spent at a friend’s house, Yule and Chanukah were subdued because we didn’t have the money to bring daddy home. 

Now we’re creeping up on the 2 year mark.  I’ve had lots of firsts – I put in a new hard drive to the computer; and argued with my husband over money.  We used to be that couple that just didn’t fight.  Now we fight at least once a month.  I’ve had people that know us both say to me “you know, you’d be there if he really wanted you there.”

It's only going to get harder.  He's deploying soon and to stay in is going to have to change jobs.  So he'll be gone for both the deployment and job training.  If the family is super lucky we MIGHT get to be together by next year; THREE YEARS after he re-joined. Because the military cares for families and believes that we're important. 


  1. You are such a strong, wonderful woman, Alex. I know being without Donovan has to feel horrible, and I can only imagine you all miss him. No one could blame you for disgruntlement with being without him.

    I just wanted to let you know that I think you are awesome. That, in many ways, I look up to you. And that I believe in you.

  2. Thanks so much. You're my first comment on this blog and after the tears and other crap going on this week, this was a much needed "you can do it!"


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