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Gone is Gone

I recently sat around a table with some amazing military spouses. These men and women from across the country opened my eyes to the challenges facing so many of you out there. But what really struck a chord with me was we shared one common thread: our partners, at one time, were away when something bad happened.

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This something bad could have been a flat tire, or it could have been the loss of a relative.  It didn’t matter, because to each of us, at that one moment in time, we couldn’t reach over to the one person who could make it better: our partner.


That’s where we, as military spouses, girlfriends, partners, whomever share an incredible bond. We know what it’s like to miss that piece of you when crisis happens.

The other thing that really made me think long and hard during that dinner with friends, was how we kept comparing our journeys to the next person’s. Not upping the ante, but downplaying our own. “Oh, it wasn’t so bad; at least he’s only been away for 6 months. It could have been a year.” “Oh, it’s just training, why am I upset he’s away?”

In my case, I kept comparing my husbands deployments overseas as not so bad. He never went to the desert, so our time apart wasn’t as bad as many others.  Now, with him gone for several years, I downplay that as well, stating to others, at least he’s stateside. The truth is, I can’t get back the time apart, nor can I get back the loneliness I feel not having him with me.

The reality though, is no matter where your partner is, no matter how long they are gone, Gone is Gone. When something bad happens, and you can’t reach over to hug them, to hold them for support, you stop comparing your experience to others and just start wanting them home.

Everyday, new spouses experience their first separation and suffer what it’s like to have their partners away when something bad happens. It may sound trivial to seasoned wives when they hear someone complain about the distance apart when her spouse is “just at training for a month,” but remember your first time apart. Did you get a flat tire or have the furnace go out? How about not knowing where to seek help on base for finances? Your child may have broken a bone and had to rush them to the emergency room.  These are all new, scary experiences and a month can feel like a lifetime apart to a new spouse.

Wrap your arms around that spouse, and give her support when she needs it the most. Put yourself in her shoes. And let’s stop comparing ourselves to the next one or downplaying our own feelings. Everyone goes through emotions when their partner is away. Because frankly, gone is gone, no matter how far apart or how long the separation is.

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