Coffee, sunglasses help in trying times

By Anita Doberman: PNT Columnist

This week my husband left for a long deployment. Perhaps it was the fact that we have a newborn and I may still be under the post-partum blues, or the reality of caring for five children at a time when my baby sitter amicably fired me — a real tragedy — but it was especially difficult to see him go.

The few days before he left, I walked around the house in a state of pre-mourning. Seeing his black bags and desert gear would bring tears to my eyes almost instantly. When he took pictures of the kids to take along with him, I sobbed as if I were a reality-show soap-opera diva. I didn’t try to snap out of my depression but completely let myself dwell into self-pity.

To make matters worse, though my husband was understanding, in my fragile state, I managed to find fault in his male attempts at comfort. When I told him how great it was that I will have lost all the baby weight by the time he got back, and he simply agreed, I accused him of calling me fat. When he didn’t seem sad enough about his departure, I accused him of not being sad enough about his departure, which might help explain why he didn’t seem too sad.

Even writing was not flowing easily and I found myself staring at a blank computer screen for several days.

The actual day of my husband’s departure I was a wreck. I couldn’t find sun-glasses big enough to cover my distraught face. I got in the car and started driving toward the base. Every time I attempted to say something I would just start sobbing. My husband gently, and absurdly, suggested we try talking about something else. When we approached the drop off point I was able to say a few words without getting completely choked up.

We both got out of the car and I kissed him before seeing him off. When I got back into the minivan I let myself go to the worst crying I had in the last few days. As I looked up and around, I saw several spouses with dark sunglasses crying in their own cars. At first I pretended I didn’t see them, but I spotted one of my good friends a few cars to my left and I called her on her cell. Before she even picked up we started laughing, got out of the car and gathered together with other wives. We must have looked pretty funny to outsiders.

Sure, it will be hard to be away for the months ahead and I will be counting every day until I see my husband. But once again I was reminded that I am not alone in the daily struggles of military families.

Other military wives were going through exactly the same thing. We decided to forget about our puffy eyes and disheveled appearance and go get some coffee together. If my husband were here he might gently suggest that a $5 coffee was a little overpriced, but he’s not here, so my trip was guilt-free.

Until he returns I will enjoy more frequent trips to get some expensive coffee drinks; and who knows … maybe those sweet beverages will make the days go by faster.

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. The family expects to be moving to Cannon Air Force Base in the next year. Contact her at: