Deployment Diaries: Nikki J.
Elise had just dropped the kids off at a friends house and was rushing back to the squadron, shaking with terror. She feared that he had already left and that their final goodbye would have just been a casual one as they were buckling the kids in their car seats.
She wished she had just listened to Todd in the first place and dropped the kids off with a friend before they checked him in, but no, she had insisted it would be good for the boys to have a little more time with their dad before he left on his deployment. It was only a 4 month deployment, but to her it would feel like forever.
Elise parked her car and rushed into the building and sighed with relief when she saw no one had left yet. Scanning the room, she found Todd and walked over to where he was sitting. They sat next to each other for the next hour or so, sometimes talking but most of the time was spent in silence. Painful silence. It finally broke when the commander told everyone to say their last goodbyes to their loved ones, it was time to head out to the flight line and get in the jet.
Todd stood up and led Elise across the room to a hallway to have some privacy. Elise felt as if she was just floating through the room, not paying attention to anyone but Todd. They stood in the hallway and he held her a little closer as they exchanged their goodbyes.
Todd seemed so calm and collect, while Elise was trying to hold herself together and not lose it in front of him. It was as if this was no problem to Todd at all, but she knew he was just shutting out the emotions so he could focus on the mission ahead of him.
Todd pulled back from their embrace to look Elise in the eyes, “It’s time for me to go Elise. I’ll call you as soon as I can. I love you.”
“I love you too, Todd.” Elise responded.
They hugged one last time, and then parted ways. As Elise walked to the car she doubted that she would be able to hold it together, her heart already ached for Todd.
As she woke up and looked around it felt strange to know her husband wasn’t in bed next to her. After being married over 5 years this was the first deployment they had ever faced together. She put her head into her hands and started to cry to God, “Don’t you know that I need him here? How am I supposed to make it while he is gone? I miss him so much…” She got up out of bed, put her tossled hair into a pony tail and went downstairs to do some cleaning before the kids woke up.
“Everything is going to be so different now,” she muttered to herself. As she was washing the dishes she heard the spectacular sound of her cell phone ringing! “Todd!” Elise ran to the phone and answered it with anticipation, “Hello?”
“Elise,” she recognized his rugged voice.
”Oh Todd, I miss you so much! Nothing is the same here without you,” she sighed.
“I know honey, but I also know that you will do fine. Just remember to rely on the Lord for your strength and you’ll do fine.” There was this bizarre silence between them, then she heard him say, “I really need to go now. I just wanted to let you know I made it here safe. I love you Elise.”
“Oh Todd, I love you too. And you’re right, I have the Lord as my strength and that’s why everything will be ok,” she assured him. They said their good byes and hung up.
The silence in her home was deafening as she began to cry. Pull yourself together Elise, you’ll be fine. As she was reflecting on their conversation, his words began to echo all around her, just remember to rely on the Lord for your strength and you’ll be fine.
She walked over to the coffee pot and poured herself a cup of coffee and went to the table to sit and drink it. She was wrapped in the silence of her home when she recognized a familar sound. The kids were stirring upstairs. “Ok, I can do this,” Elise said to herself as she got up and went to get the kids.
Elise put on a phony smile as she opened the door to the boy’s bedroom. “Good morning boys!” she said to Avery and Taylor. The boys climbed out of the bed and started running around the bedroom with way too much energy. Finally, Elise caught Avery by the arm and sat down on the ground, pulling him into her lap. She stroked his hair and said, “do you know that your daddy loves you? Because he does. Very much.”
Avery looked at her with questioning eyes, “Daddy?”
“Daddy’s at work honey,” she reminded him. “We’ll see him in a few months.”
“Dada at work!” Avery proclaimed.
“Yes he is,” Elise agreed and then remembering her plans for the day, got up and wasted no time getting the boys’ diapers changed and dressed for the day. She then picked up Taylor, planted a kiss on his cheek and then headed down the stairs with him in her arms and Avery following behind.
Elise sat the boys at the table and put their breakfast out before them. She just gave the boys some cereal in their bowls, hoping for a quick clean up after breakfast so they could hit the road before too much traffic for the weekend. Elise scarfed down her cereal as fast as she could, then pushed away from the table so she could start loading up the car.
Elise opened up her purse to grab her keys when she noticed they were missing. “BOYS!” she yelled out of frustrating. She looked over at the two sitting at the table in their booster chairs, oblivious to the stress they were causing their mom. Just then Elise felt the baby kick, almost as if the baby was telling her to calm down because the stress was bad for her blood pressure. She put her hand on her stomach and smiled as she felt the baby kicking her. “Baby Alex!!” Avery had shouted as he climed down from his chair and ran over to touch his mom’s stomach too. She looked down and couldn’t help smiling at the boy, forgetting how mad she had been in the first place. The scene was just so perfect, she couldn’t let her anger ruin it.
After a moment Elise told Avery to get back in his chair and finish his breakfast so she could begin the quest of looking for her keys…
Half an hour later they were all loaded up in the Expedition and ready to start the long, 6 hour road trip. Back in the spring before Elise knew Todd was going to be deployed, she had signed up for a Walk for the Cure. Then a month or two later she found out the news, that he would be gone right before this trip. She wanted to back out, but it wasn’t just another walk for the cure. No, this was something more, it was a walk to find a cure for PKD (polycystic kidney disease). A disease that affected not only her, but her entire family and possibly her kids down the road.
She knew she must press forward with this trip. Not even the devil can stop me from being in this walk, Elise thought to herself.