It is no secret that military life is hard on families. I have seen countless marriages end because of the pressures of military life on top of regular life. Military families experience lengthy separations from deployments and training, and long work days when they are home (at least we do!!!). Timelines are never solid, always subject to change, and rarely at the benefit of the family (evidenced by our postponed wedding). Moms and Dads are left at home with children (and/or pets) and the responsibility of running the household alone. It is hard, we say it isn’t what we signed up for, but if we are honest we would acknowledge that we knew the possibility [of separation] and love won out. I have been asked countless times, “How do you do it?” and been told, “I don’t know how you make it.” Most of the time I shrug and say something about how I am used to it by now. I know what people are saying. They are saying. “How can you stand to be alone?”, “How do you take care of the kids and everything else with no help?”, “How do you not go crazy, considering Michael died already?”. They are saying a lot of things when they ask those questions. The truth is, I am not used to it. Every week away from Frank is long, tiresome, and sometimes downright excruciating. It exacerbates my grief from losing Michael. I worry constantly, often irrationally, about Frank. However, there are little things that push me forward. I want to share them with you, so that hopefully it helps another family. The first is a lesson that I learned from Michael, that always…no matter what, love wins out (this is another post entirely). The second is something that Frank started on his first deployment away, and we have continued together through three more separations: a song of the week. Music makes our world move. It soothes the pains we feel, and draws us closer.
The first time that Frank left he sent me the name of a song that made him think of me and had some message he wanted me to hear. We both would listen to that song while away from each other, so that we didn’t feel so far apart. During the first separation Frank picked every song, but in the following separations we both picked songs. 4 playlists. 96 songs. 96 weeks. Let that sink in…because my story is not unique. Maybe it is a little extreme or not typical, but it is not unique.
We have been apart 96 weeks in 4 years. That is over 672 days or 1.8 years apart. The sucky part is that we only do a song of the week for time apart that will last 4 or more weeks (we have counted about 15 other weeks we didn’t use songs for). So, in reality, we have spent 2 years apart in 4 years. There have been some weeks where the song has been the only thing that has pulled us both out of the trenches. This deployment has been more difficult than all the other times apart combined. It is hard for me to be here, unable to help Frank and the reverse is hard for him. I have felt many times that if I were just with him, I could cook dinner, hug him, spend time with him, and his job would be less discouraging. I truly have felt helpless the last 24 weeks. It could not end sooner for both of us, and we both are holding out hope we will get good news soon in regards to his return.
I just want to share with you all some of our music that keeps us close. The fun part is that it keeps our whole family close. The kids love each “new” song. It is always wonderful to hear them singing one of the songs, it make my heart extra happy. It works for us, maybe it will work for someone else.
The first song he ever sent me was:
Stoney LaRue- “Let Me Hold You”
The first song Frank ever sent me that told me he was completely homesick was:
3 Doors Down- “Your Arms Feel Like Home”
The first song I ever picked was:
Zac Brown Band- “Free”
One of my absolute favorites (that I picked) is:
Cory Morrow- “Always and Forever
The ones that ALWAYS make me cry happy “I am completely in love” tears:
Miranda Lambert- “Oklahoma Sky”
Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed- “All I’ve Ever Needed”
Jillian Edwards- “Mind Made Up”
The funny one:
Dierks Bentley- “Diamonds Make Babies”
The time I needed to apologize for being a nut job:
Cory Morrow- “Never Made It to My Lips”