Deployment Eve/Day 1.

They say a pictures worth a thousand words, right? What about emotions? Seeing this picture, knowing what happened just prior, is something that breaks my heart. The last night Nick was home I decided to capture those memories for our girls, for when they get older. I followed them around with my camera as they did the routine of things. This picture was taken a minute after we put the girls to bed. It was the last time he would see his daughters this year. It was the last time he’d hear “I love you Daddy” followed by the sweetest kisses from three little blonde girls. It was the last time he’d squeeze them in a big bear hug and it was the last time he would get to see his daughters as is, before they grow and change while he’s gone. Immediately after putting the twins to bed, he went into our bathroom and partially shut the door. As I followed him I knew the familiar sound coming from the bathroom. It was the sound of a father crumbling with emotions, the sniffles and blotted eyes. It was the moment reality had set in for him, he realized the sacrifices he made at 18 when he enlisted. He sat in there for a few minutes before he walked out and took a shower. I decided to upload the photos I had taken of the night, proceeded to cry again(let’s face it, I’ve been an emotional roller coaster lately) because these photos captured so much to me. The photos show the happiness on our daughters faces, the chaos of trying to contain each strong willed child, and it shows how much each child loves their daddy.

The night went as normal, bath, book then bed. Paityn wasn’t ready to say bye to her daddy, she woke up and decided to sleep in our bed most of the night. I think that extra little bit of time was needed. She snuggled into him, grabbed his face to give him a kiss and reminded him repeatedly “I love you daddy”. We were able to get an hour or two of sleep before we had to be up to head to the airport. My mom came over to watch the girls so we didn’t have to drag them out so early. As we were getting ready, our oldest woke up and came downstairs. She hugged her daddy and told him to be safe from the bad guys. She told him she would be good for mommy and that she wanted him to not forget her. I was three foot from them in a different room, hearing my four year old explain that to her dad was like a kick to the throat. She clearly understood what we said when we told her he was leaving. She remembered what country he was going to and that he would be gone for long time. She started to tear up and whine a little, as she sat on her dads lap while he tied his boots. I can’t help but think, will she remember that moment? Will she remember what’s happening when she’s older? What if that is one of the first memories she has? I pulled myself together because it was time to drive a long drive to drop him off.

He hugged my mom, if you think I’m emotional you need to meet my mother. Apple didn’t fall far from the tree but she takes the cake. Seeing how emotional my mom was, hit Nick again and the sniffles started as we left. The drive to the airport was filled with my indecisive music selection, the sniffles, small talk over bills and things to keep track of and what to expect the next few weeks. This is Nicks second tour, he knows what to expect but this is his first with a family. As we pulled into the parking lot I could immediately see a truck with two American Flags flying in the bed, I could see families surrounding their loved one dressed in the camo. I had a vision in my head what it’d be like and let me tell you it’s nothing like the movies. I saw a dad chase his child, who might have been 1 while his older child was running next to him. I saw a husband hug his wife as she broke down fearful of the unknown. I saw a large family come together to see two of their own leave. There is another local family to us that are also on this deployment with us, the Adams family. I cried knowing Tim was going to miss his daughters first birthday. He’s going to miss a lot of her milestones. Why? Because he wants to defend others freedom, he’s a soldier. He and his wife, Maddy, have two children that now are going through what we are going through. It’s going to be nice to have someone close that knows exactly what I’m going through and to lean on each other. It’s also reassuring knowing who will be over there with Nick. At the military Christmas party I met a few of them and one that stuck out was Luke aka Boom(no surprisingly enough I didn’t give him that nickname). He’s one of those funny, good guys that will keep Nick from being a grump butt the whole time. He’s a positive enforcement especially at a time like this. He gave me a big hug today and reassured me everything will be alright, he’d make sure of it. Yes, you guessed it, I cried again. Pretty sure he told me to get it together(he’s not wrong though). I didn’t cry so much for my own family today but for the other families I saw today standing there going through the same emotions we were. I didn’t know who they were, their names, I knew nothing about them but what I did know is we can relate more than anyone and we are a big family overall. Due to COVID(once again I have a few bad words to say about that crock of crap that needs to go away), we weren’t able to walk in with the soldiers or watch them leave. I watched Nick and Boom walk inside, I watched the other families get into their vehicles. The woman in the car next to me put her head down on her steering wheel while playing “Come Home Soon” by SheDaisy(yeah girl I was singing with you on that one). I wanted to hug her or tell her it’s going to be okay but couldn’t. After leaving the airport I needed to stop at Walmart. I kind of just wandered around before remembering why I was there. Nick had text me to tell me they were flying out to *insert location here* where they will be headed before going to the other country. I bought the final stuff for our “Deployment Wall”.

I ended my shopping trip and ventured home. When I say I ventured I really mean I ended up lost to the point GPS was telling me they couldn’t help me. Whoopsie… I was able to drive and listen to music, enjoy the moments to myself I had left. I came across a town I knew and was able to find my way home. I will tell you now that having an amazing support system has made this completely better. My cousin Chelsea, came down to be with me so I wouldn’t be alone. She knew I needed someone without having to ask. She and my amazing coworker Megan were planning on surprising me but Megan ended up working for me allowing me to have today off instead. I don’t know what I did to deserve such amazing people in my life like them, but I thank God everyday for them. Chelsea stayed for hours to hangout with my children, allowing me to take a relaxing bath and take a nap(between lack of sleep and crying I have had a migraine all day), she didn’t second guess letting me get some “me” time or sleep. She’s always had my back and I will forever be glad to have her as my best friend. Once she finally thought it was okay for her to leave, I cleared out the girls old toys(I’m getting rid of 10 bags of toys in the last two day, I promise they still have toys, they’re overly spoiled). I deep cleaned. I went through my clothes, we made bracelets, we started the deployment wall. We did it, we survived day 1. It doesn’t seem like it’s that tough to make it through the first day but I promise, Nick having to walk away from his way home but instead into an airport with none of his girls was tough. Leaving him there and having to answer “where’s my daddy? when’s my daddy coming home? I want my daddy” over and over is tough. I put the twins to bed tonight and they refused to sleep, they quietly singing their ABCs. Gracelyn is asleep in her bed and I’m sitting by the top of the stairs listening to the twins sing. I took a bath, ate a pizza to myself(that’s right, ya girl can put some food away) and the silence quickly took over so I decided to sit here and blog as I listen to them sing. I hate quiet, that leads to overthinking and anxiety and both I need no assistance in. Sarge is snoring at the bottom of the stairs, the cats are laying on the stairs just below me and Zeus is asleep in my bed. I’m not sure what day 2 will consist of but I do know that I’m so thankful for the support we’ve received and the love that’s been sent. It’s motivation to keep going. I will be adding all of the photos from Deployment Eve below.

Love,

Candyce

Even though I’m Leaving…

Nick got the call earlier this week that they’re deploying in xxx days. Those days have turned into hours now. We’ve been preparing over and over but it’s not any easier. I’ve thought of how to tell the girls, all week, and now that we are to the very last minute we finally told them.

We took pictures tonight, the Princesses and their daddy. I’ve only had a chance to go over a few of them because quite frankly it’s been hard to see through the tears. After photos Gracelyn asked if we could sit down on a blanket in the dining room and have a picnic. So there we sat three princesses in rain boots, tiaras, pasta sauced faces and giggles as they raced who could eat what the fasted. It only lasted a few minutes before Paityn was climbing Nick, Gracelyn was chasing the puppy and Maisyn was trying to blow milk bubbles out of her nose(I wish I was kidding). It dawned on me, this was our last family dinner and the chaos in front of me is exactly what I needed. The girls being their typical selves not realizing the drastic change coming. It was the last few moments of them being them before we told them the news. As I sat the girls down, Paityn still climbing Nick’s back, Maisyn actively shoveling pasta into her mouth and Gracelyn realizing there were onions in the food but she “hates onions”, I raised my voice to get their attention. All three looked at me wide eyes and a little terrified I’m sure, I don’t typically raise my voice. I looked at Gracelyn and before I could speak a word the tears were welling in my eyes. I said “Baby we need to talk, we need to have a big girl talk about something important okay?” “What’s wrong momma, why do you always cry?” (Okay child, way to call me out like that) I looked at her and said “Gracie, your daddy is going to be going away for a while, a lot longer than normal. We won’t be able to see him but we can still talk to him on the phone.” She looked puzzled for a minute before she spoke. This was an all too familiar memory of my own past so I knew what was coming. “Why? Where is daddy going?” The room was silent and still besides the sniffles coming from the man next to me and the sound of my heart racing in my chest. How do you explain to a 4 year old that her daddy is off to a war that has been going on most of her mommy’s life? I googled tips this week and the tips said to be honest with her, otherwise they got nada. So I told her “Daddy is going to be a good guy and help people. He’s going to *insert country here* and he’s going with a bunch of other people to help get rid of bad guys.” “Why?” She asked completely stone faced. “Because that’s what daddy does, he helps people. He’s a soldier remember? So he helps others.” My smiley, spunky over the top daughters face quickly turned into a sad face with tears in her eyes as it started to click. She curled up on my lap as I continued to try helping her with her questions and her worries, like how her daddy won’t be home for her birthday or Christmas, he won’t be home for the twins birthday in June, he won’t be here to play with her or cuddle her. My baby was experiencing sadness that I couldn’t fix and that is a helpless feeling. I squeezed my girl while the tears fell from my face. As she and I softly cried together, Paityns clung to her dad’s back playing with his ears, as happy as can be. Maisyn was next to me wearing two tiaras now, wearing her Belle Princess dress and her pink rain boots. She was singing her ABC’s while eating more pasta(I’m not saying she’s my favorite child but when it comes to eating, she’s my girl!). The twins don’t understand it and I think that makes it harder. They ask each morning that Nick doesn’t get them up, where’s daddy? How long will it be of them asking before they get upset and throw a fit for him? How long will the tears of the oldest last when she doesn’t get to cuddle him at night? It’ll get worse before better. My heart hurts so bad for my girls but it hurts even worse for Nick. He’s going to be missing out on everything, for a long while. The girls are changing and developing so much at this age, they’re going to be completely different when he comes home. The sooner this starts the sooner it’s over.

Luke Combs wrote a song called Even Though I’m Leaving, the first verse is Nick and G to a T. He chases her monsters away. He protects her and is her safe haven. I know I can do it too, but I’m not her dad. Every girl needs her dad. How do I make this transition smoothest? The answer? There is no answer. It’s trial and error. Tears will be shed from both of us. How do you be strong for your children when you want to cry for them? I say it all the time, I’m fine. Nick compares me to Meredith Grey because I answer everything with “I’m Fine, I’m always fine”. No matter what’s thrown at me, I answer it the same every time. Maybe this time I won’t be fine, but for now I’m doing fine. The next few weeks please bare with me as we face this change, I’m not sure what to expect other than a lot of wine(probably should invest into wine stocks) and a lot of chick flicks. I luckily have an amazing support system and have taken time off to spend sometime with my girls. They need their mommy but their mommy needs them more.

Love,

Candyce 🧡