Well, the moment you have been dreading for the last little while is here. You are probably asking yourself, what now? How am I going to survive this? I remember dropping my husband off at MEPS the night before he left and dreading having to leave him. I bawled through the entire last meal we ate together at the hotel as our waitress looked at me with pity. I felt guilty for not being stronger. I had promised him time and time again that I would be ok, that I would hold my head high, but my emotions flooded through me with little control.
When I returned home that evening, the house felt empty, the bed felt bigger than usual, the silence was haunting, and our puppy and cat knew something was off as well, daddy was gone, and they didn’t understand why. I knew the worst night was yet to come, that would be the next night after I had said my final goodbye for two months. At that point, the only thing holding me together was the fact I would see him in the morning.
Walking into MEPS, I took off my shoes, my belt, and placed both, along with my purse, on the conveyer belt before walking through the metal detector; doing so in a daze. Once I got through, I saw my husband sitting with a group of other future Airman or soldiers all waiting to swear in. He seemed distant from me. I guess he had to be, it was how he was coping, but all I wanted was him in my arms. I kept it together until a guy, also leaving, asked how I was doing. That was it for the dry eyes. I mumbled that I was good as tears began to stream down my cheeks. My in-laws told me it would be ok, that I would make it through. Mothers who had gone through this previously with their husbands and were now doing so with sons or daughters told me that the time passes quickly, but it didn’t feel like it would in the beginning.
Other spouses seemed to have it all together, and it made me wonder what their secret was and if I was doing something wrong. I didn’t want my husband to see me having a meltdown because he had no choice but to be strong, and I had promised I would do the same. The ugly crying was supposed to wait until I was all by myself, at home with a carton of my favorite ice-cream and my tattered sweat pants. But nope, here came the first of many meltdowns. So, if you are going through this, don’t feel bad if other spouses seem more put together than you. Chances are, they either had a meltdown that morning or will be in full meltdown mode as they drive away. Everyone handles this experience differently, so don’t beat yourself up too hard if you are struggling to hold it together.
As I sat there worrying for him and worrying for me, I thought about how I had gone through a BMT goodbye before with my sister-in-law and how I should be better equipped to handle it. And yes, I bawled when she left too; but this time it was different. This time it was my partner in crime, my late-night food run buddy, my lover, my cuddle buddy, the best sounding board I had, the person who laughed at my ridiculously stupid jokes, the person who I bared my soul to, the love of my life, and I just wasn’t ready for it.
No matter how much you prepare yourself, you may not ever be ready to say goodbye, and that’s ok. You will get through it. Each day will become an accomplishment. Each letter or phone call you will receive will make you want to jump for joy, and as each day passes you will know that you are one day closer to the day you get to see them again. Just remember, you are stronger than you think and there is a military spouse community out here to help you through each step.
Whether you are preparing for that inevitable goodbye, have already said goodbye and are counting down days, or experienced the BMT goodbye many years ago, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below because after all we, as military spouses, have to have each other’s backs. You got this!