It was only a partial eclipse in our area, which meant that the moon only covered a portion of the sun. At the ‘peak’ of the event, the sun was about 65% hidden by the moon. My friends and I looked around us. Even though it was still a sunny day, the light was dimmer, like the beginning of evening. The summer air felt a little cooler for a few moments. But mostly, we didn’t notice much difference in the world around us. One friend commented (jokingly) “Well, I guess that goes to show we can live without half the sun!”
Of course, I’m not here to discuss the science behind that comment. I think we can all agree that the Earth needs the sun… all of it. What struck me is how much that same comment can relate to military deployments. Military spouses say thing like “Half my heart is deployed” or “It’s hard living without half your heart.” So who better than a military spouse facing (yet another) deployment to truly appreciate the solar eclipse and how it relates to all of us?
Here’s why deployment is like a solar eclipse
“You never knew you could live with half your heart.”
Just as the moon covered half the sun during the eclipse, deployment will seem to take away half your heart. Nevertheless, when we looked around us at the peak of the eclipse, we noticed that the sun was still shining, cars were still driving, babies and children were still playing happily. Basically, life continued on, even with half the sun hidden from sight. In the same way, spouses learn to create their own lives during deployment. They take classes to earn a degree, or they get a new job. They have babies, volunteer their time, and celebrate holidays. Life goes on, with or without the deployed spouse. Life may be a little paler or dimmer for a while, but it doesn’t end. Most military spouses learn to make the most of deployment time.
“You can’t truly prepare for a unique event.”
Sure, there are things you can do to get ready. For a solar eclipse, you check the calendar and buy some special glasses, or make a pinhole camera out of a cereal box. For a deployment, you get legal paperwork like a Power of Attorney and maybe you fill your freezer with pre-made meals. Either way, you never really know how you will feel when the event happens. I knew what a solar eclipse would look like from pictures, just as a knew in theory what deployment would be like because we have already been through six of them. It doesn’t matter–a unique event like an eclipse or a deployment is going to be special each time and effect you differently each time you go through it.
“Deployments can take away your spouse, but not their love.”
In our area, it didn’t become dark, even in the middle of the eclipse. In the same way, deployments cannot erase your spouse’s love. Sure, communication may be limited to a few emails or a Skype call once a month. Believe me, I know how difficult it is to keep a relationship strong during those times of no communication! But in the end, things eventually return to normal. You and your spouse are still friends, even if Reintegration takes longer than a solar eclipse.
“When you feel like time is standing still… look up.”
I was surprised how long the solar eclipse lasted. It wasn’t an event limited to a few minutes. It turns out that it takes a few hours for the moon to move across the sun’s path. There were times we didn’t think much had changed at all. Then we would put on the glasses, look up, and discover that the moon was in a completely different position. A deployment countdown app can work that way too. Sometimes you just feel stuck in a rut, like deployment is dragging on forever. Then you glance at your countdown and realize that an entire month has already passed! Sure, there is a lot of time remaining, but you have to stay positive and focus on the fact that time is indeed passing. Just hang in there for a little longer.
“All things come to an end.”
Just as we knew the eclipse would start at 9:05 AM and end by 11:23 AM, deployments have beginning and ending dates, too. They are not nearly as precise as the solar eclipse. In fact sometimes, you would just be happy to know what month the deployment will end! But the fact is this: you know it is a temporary event. Your spouse will deploy, they will be gone for a while, then they will come home. Life will look different for a while when they are gone, just as the world looks a little different during an eclipse. But soon enough it will be over, you won’t need those glasses anymore, (or the Homecoming sign) and everyone can return to their daily lives.
Did you witness the eclipse? How about a deployment? Tell us about it!