My husband left for Navy Boot Camp 5 weeks ago, and this is by far the longest we have ever been apart. When asked to summarize my thoughts and experiences, I drew a complete blank. So instead I’ve answered a few random – yet extremely relevant – questions that were posed to me about my fledgling journey as a Navy wife thus far:
How did you feel about the first actual phone call, not the “I’m here, look for my box” call?
Up until the first “real” phone call, I had been bragging excessively about how well I was handling the separation up to that point. I missed my husband more than anything, but I wasn’t finding the discomfort of loneliness to be socially crippling in any way, like I’d feared it might become. While missing him I was still able to cheerfully go about my day in a productive and upbeat manner. I was so proud of how “in control” I was.
Then he called. And I answered the phone, all smiles and sunshine…. Just to learn that my phone had picked that very moment to stop working. The microphone on my iPhone broke, so I could hear my husband but he could not hear me. He kept trying to call me back for 18 minutes straight. He finally called his mother, who was able to give him an alternate number to call me at. By the time we connected, he had literally 4 minutes to talk. It was awful. Before we connected, I was sobbing like a baby. Broke down into near hysterics. My whole “in control” façade just crumbled.
When I finally spoke to him for those precious 4 minutes, I felt much better, but after that one call, I’ve been a little bit more honest and open with myself about the discomfort of being apart from him. Every day I am learning better ways of coping without my husband, and I am coming to find more and more that the time we have together, no matter how brief – phone call or letter writing – is precious. I’m sure I have many more tearful revelations to discover in my future career as “full time Navy wife”, but I will certainly always remember that first lesson, sobbing over the distance and having a 4 minute phone call reveal how precious every second with my husband is.
The box. What was it like for you to receive your husband’s clothes and other artifacts in a box?
I found it fun and exciting! Before Jonathan signed up, I wanted to join the Navy myself, but was unable to once I found that I was pregnant. So when Jonathan joined, I was super jealous! By the time his box arrived a week later I wasn’t missing Jonathan to an uncomfortable point just yet – it was easy to imagine that he was away at his moms for the week or off hiking in a no reception area with friends or something. And when I’d think about him in boot camp, I’d get excited for our future, and experience just a little bit of jealousy at the adventures he’s off having. I really wanted to experience boot camp myself! Hehe!
So when I got his box it just served as another landmark in the “we’ll be together soon” timeline. That, and his phone was in the box, and that is filled with all kinds of fun photos and videos and goodies and I was excited to have that back again. I was really confused when everyone online saw I got the box and were offering me their condolences. “Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry!” “That has got to suck.” And one good friend and Navy wife said, “I’ve been there. That’s a hard day when you get that box!” I was like, “Huh?! What are you guys talking about??” I was happy! And I sent pictures of the cats climbing and playing in the box and sleeping in his clothes to my husband, which ‘m sure he got a kick out of and brightened his day!
What was it like to get the first letter?
A mixture of feelings. Mostly, “About freaking time.” My husband was put into a 900 Performance Division and they had not finished filling up the band and state flags, so he was put on hold for a week, and was unable to call or write during that time. Then, they decided to make his division a push division –where he basically graduates on time, but has to learn everything VERY fast. So the accelerated curriculum, coupled with his duties as a drummer in the Performance Division drum line, meant that he was unable to call me till week 3, and was unable to send me mail till week 5. Meanwhile, all of the wives and mothers of Sailor Recruits in my husbands PIR group had been receiving calls and letter from as early as week 2.
By week 5, I had received two calls amounting to a total of 19 minutes, and zero letters, and would then log onto Facebook to read, “Got my 4th phone call today! This time we talked for 40 minutes!” and, “Just got my 25th letter in the mail!” It was getting hard to stomach. I pretty much resigned myself to just hearing from my husband at graduation…. Another lesson in, “Every moment I can share with him is precious.”
As of writing this, my husband has been gone for 5 ½ weeks now and I just received mail for the first time yesterday – three letters. They were very brief and contained everything we talked about on his last 15 minute phone call. But it was so nice to hear from him. It’s hard not to be just a little bitter at the other women who are hearing so much and are so well informed on their loved ones boot camp experiences. But I’m grateful to finally receive something to brighten my day and read and re-read and re-read again! My husband is loving boot camp, and having a blast, and now I’m back to feeling jealous because he’s off having all the fun, haha!
How did you handle the holidays – especially the patriotic ones?
I keep busy! I spent Independence Day with my family this year. I decided to research some of my favorite quotes from the Founding Fathers and sent my husband (who is a history buff like me) some inspirational quotes in a letter. I think the pride I feel for my husband and this great nation he has signed up to serve overshadowed and drowned out my sorrow at missing him on the 4th of July. I am so proud of him and know that he is happy to be where he is! So what is there to be sad about? ^_^
How do you see the world differently? How is the world still the same?
I am realizing more and more how deeply woven my husband is in my day to day life, from major matters to trivial ones. I have always been thoroughly grateful to be married to that man, and have not been in the habit of taking him for granted. So I was a little shocked to discover new levels of just how precious he is to me during this time apart. With him being gone, I am seeing gaps that he previously filled in my day, from sharing an inside joke to cheering me up when I feel sad, that I did not know he filled. I’m having to relearn the ways I managed alone before I met him.
For instance, I did not realize how much I relied on him to vent to pillow talk style and let off steam at the end of the day. I had to consciously stop and remember how I would relax and detox prior to meeting him – basically, keeping a journal and blogging, reaching out to friends, going to my knees in prayer. And so on and so forth. So to answer the question, I see the world essentially the same, it’s just that I find it an easier and more pleasant place with my husband by my side.
Overall, boot camp has been a time of growth and changes for the both of us, in many ways!… I just wish my “changes” also came with a sexy sailor body at the end of the 9 weeks. 😉