Every time my husband prepares for deployment, I know to prepare myself for sleepless nights. Any of you who are sleeping in an empty bed for the first time in a while know just what I’m talking about with this one.
The night my husband left for his first deployment, I was laying in bed with my eyes closed (not because I was sleeping but because they were swollen shut!) when I realized I was living alone for the first time in my life. I had moved from my parent’s house to living with roommates in college to living with Rob after we were married. That’s not such a great realization when you’re already freaking out about everything else that’s happening.
That first deployment, I managed about 3 hours of sleep a night. Now I’m one who growing up had no problem sleeping until noon after going to bed at midnight the previous night. My parents used to kid me that I needed my 12 in order for anyone to stand to be around me. But the sleepless nights had nothing to do with me being scared to be there by myself.
Part of it was the fact that my bed was empty. A bed that should have my husband sprawled out across at least half of it with a pillow over his head snoring louder than ever. But the other part was that it was quiet at night. All day, I did what you do as an Army wife to survive a deployment – STAY BUSY! I would run around all day working on my business, running errands, looking for care package items, standing in endless lines at the post office, etc. You all know the routine. But at night, it was quiet and dark and I was still. There were no distractions except my own mind. When I finally allowed my body to rest is when my mind would kick into high gear with all of the what ifs.
So I would lay there in the darkness surrounded by anxious and worrisome questions that I would never have answers to until he was home safe again. And some I would never have answers to at all. My only break would be when I would stay at someone else’s house, be it my parent’s or a friend’s house. He wasn’t suppose to be in that bed. I didn’t wake up in the night expecting him to be there. And on those rare nights, I would sleep soundly dreaming that my husband was just laying in our bed at home asleep…and safe.
When he comes home again, its always such a great relief. I feel like I’m breathing fully again for the first time in months. And my body lets me know it is utterly exhausted and simply can’t go for another day deprived. That first night he’s back, laying in bed with his arm around me while I fall asleep is absolutely the best feeling in the world. My world then is as it should be…with my husband beside me, the pillow thrown over his head and the earth shattering snore. There’s never been a sweeter lullaby to fall asleep to.