Deployment: Worrying About The Without-Yous

A photo posted by Allison Wilhelm (@alliegirl428) on

I thought we’d flown under the radar. A year on GRF (Global Response Force) and nary a deployment order to be found. I breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated during November — the birth of our son, Thanksgiving and finally being free to travel to family for the upcoming holidays. But just weeks before our flight to Oregon was to take off, the rumors started trickling in. “It doesn’t look likely, but…” “Well, they’re talking about it, but…” “They still haven’t cut orders, but…” And just days before we left for Christmas leave, the orders came down. Iraq. Nine months. Leaving in early 2015.

The holidays were a hard pill to swallow when every precious moment was tainted by my worrying about the without-yous. More than once I had to hold back tears. When he hiked through the woods with our daughter on his shoulders and our son strapped to his chest. As he attempted to tame her curly locks and fastened her black patent leather shoes on Christmas Eve, getting ready for church. As we shared an oatmeal stout in the library, after taking bites out of the cookies left out for Santa Claus — Madeline asleep upstairs and Benjamin in the ring sling on Andrew’s lap, dreaming of Christmas morning.

Each day crossed off of the new year brings reality of our situation closer and closer. And while I’ve accepted it, the heartache hasn’t gotten any easier to bear. During the nights when Benjamin refuses to be consoled, as we pass him back and forth, short on patience and short with each other, I find myself dreading the nights when he won’t be here to help. After a long day alone with the children (Andrew having busted his bottom to make it home just minutes before Madeline’s bedtime), I’ll sit nursing the baby and listening to their nightly tickle fight over the baby monitor, wondering how she will possibly comprehend his absence. And when he comes down the stairs frowning — “That was so hard,” he says, “What if she’s not the same with me when I get back?” — my stomach rolls over, and I swallow hard to send the lump in my throat away.

40 weeks. The length of a pregnancy. I know just how long that is. I’ve done this (and more) before, but not with babies. Worrying about them makes it more difficult. So much will happen between now and then without him. So many firsts. So many tears. So many hugs. So many memories. He’ll miss it all, and we’ll miss him more. There’s no getting around that part of deployment. It’s sad.

But we’re a strong family, and we will keep calm and soldier on. Together. Again. Until we are together again.


  1. Colleen Beard says

    Please know that you and your family will be prayed for during this hard time for your family.

  2. Aww man. So sorry to hear this. Somehow we’ve flown under the deployment radar too, but I have a feeling it’ll be our turn soon. I can only hope I’m wrong. My husband is at NTC right now and the MSG is “itching to deploy.” Not a good combo. I hope your Benjamin’s fussy-ness comes to an end soon and you can get some relief in that department. I know I can handle him deploying but when there are kids involved, it’s a while new situation. Will be thinking of your family!

    • Exactly. The babies take it to the next level! But I have so many good friends who have shown me that it’s possible and even possible to make it through with grace, so that’s my goal! I hope you continue to fly under the radar. There’s nothing worse than being apart for so long.

  3. Nine months is a long time. My husband left for his second deployment when out 4th was just eight weeks old. I think really the best thing is to realize now that YES, you will all be different in nine months. The worst part about reintegration with kids is having any expectation for things to be the same as before. Especially when they are little and change so fast, when he comes back he has to get to know them all over again. And being a “single” parent of two will
    Change you too! But if you know and expect it ahead of time, it’s a lot easier to cut each other some slack when that time comes!

    In the meantime, prayers for all of you. Preparing to say goodbye is like ripping off a bandaid in slow motion. We always had a professional family photo shoot before deployment and I would display the pictures all over for the kids!
    Lots of hugs!!!

    • That’s a really good way to describe this wait- ripping off a bandaid in slow motion. It’s torture and all I want to do is just get it over with and get it started!

      I can only imagine that reintegration with kids adds another challenging element to it all. I’ll be working on my new year’s resolution- patience- while he’s away. Let’s hope they don’t break me before he gets back. I have a feeling, like with our last deployment, we’ll head to marriage counseling during reintegration. It really was the best thing we could have done for ourselves and our marriage- taught us so many ways to understand each other, love each other and support each other. We owe it to each other and to our children to be good at transitioning.

      • Ripping off a band-aid is how I feel too. Sometimes I just want him to leave already. I feel bad thinking that way, but it is getting so close that you just want it to start and be over. I am already thinking in terms pre deployment, during deployment, and after deployment. What our lives will be like, what will we do, how to talk to the kids, etc. I am so glad I found your blog. It is nice to know that someone feels the way I do right now.

  4. Ughhhhhhhh…. Prayers, Allison. So many prayers heading your way.

  5. Oh, Allison. I’m so sorry. We’ve been going through the emotional ups and downs of is he/isn’t he going for months. I wish I could do something to help. HUGS.

  6. You are the strongest person I know. God never gives you more than you can handle, right? Thinking of you and those sweet, sweet babes. Please let me know if you need anything and if you happen to be in the NY area let me know! Sending you all lots of hugs and kisses. Praying for Andy’s safe and timely return home.

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