Deployment: Worrying About The Without-Yous

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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.

I Recommend Falling In Love In The Fall.

Madeline is in childcare, and I’m sitting in Starbucks writing. The lunchtime bustle is pulling me away from my screen like a moth to a flame. The last person to catch my eye was a younger gal in an oversized hoodie walking out with a soldier. She joked, “Gotta put your hat on before we can go outside,” with a flirty smile on her face, as she pushed against him.

Maybe it’s the brisk weather or the hot chai I’m sipping or the fact that I haven’t seen my husband in a week and a half, but I’m having such sweet flashbacks of walking with my boyfriend down the winding sidewalks of West Point to the Hudson River. I was that flirty girl in the oversized hoodie. “Why can’t you just hold my hand while we walk?” I’d tease, anxious to get down to the water so I could feel his arms around me again. He was always so serious when he’d remind me he needed his hand to salute when outdoors. “Well then what’s your excuse in Home Depot?” I’d press. It was a place we’d only visited once together, when his roommate (who ended up leaving the academy) wanted to pick up supplies for a homemade beer bong. “Guys don’t hold hands in Home Depot, Allie.”

I miss the beginning of our autumn romance, when crunchy leaves and lattes went hand in hand with love.

my favorite picture in the whole world

Assuming Command: Alpha Troop 5-73 CAV

So much of Andrew’s career in the Army feels like it has been leading up to this, but it never felt real or attainable until he grabbed onto that guidon last week. Or maybe it was when the Blackberry woke us up that first night at 12:30AM, and Andrew got up to go in to work. Command is a family affair. And for better or for worse (maybe a little bit of both?), our lives have been changed!

One week ago, Andrew took command of Alpha Troop, 5-73CAV. We had a gorgeous (albeit hot) day for the outdoor Change of Command. And following the ceremony, Andrew and I hosted a reception for our entire troop. It was a momentous day for Andrew and for our family, one we won’t soon forget.

Alpha Troop 5-73CAV

Alpha Troop looking picture perfect!

National Anthem

Madeline sticking close to her Daddy during the National Anthem.

Passing the guidon

No turning back- guidon in hand!

Alpha Troop 5-73 Change of Command

Madeline accepting her welcome rose.

Change of Command

Partners in crime.

Alpha Troop Commander

Andrew delivering his speech.

Lunch

Lunch!

Desserts

Desserts!

Shadow Troop Cake

Shadow By God Cake!

The Wilhelm Family

Our family.

We’re so proud and privileged to serve with Alpha Troop for the next few years. Shadow by God!