A Spouse Deployed, Still Fighting a Foolish Battle at Home

An installment in the New York Times Deployment Diary

Who has it harder – the one deployed or the one left behind? After 13 years of war, I think it’s a reasonable assertion that the one in harm’s way generally holds the trump card. But there is another side. A friend of mine once said in a Christmas card that her son might be the soldier, but her daughter-in-law and grandchildren were the troopers.

Four years ago, I sat on the couch in my favorite maternity pajamas, my legs curled to the side. Completely preoccupied, I was willing myself to read, while my fingers lightly traced arbitrary circles around my very pregnant belly. My phone rang, and the “No Caller ID” on the display sent a sense of relief coursing through my body. My husband was calling from Iraq, where, days before, his base was attacked while we were discussing baby names. After a warning siren and a quick “I got to go,” I was left holding my phone, breath, and what felt like our future. I sat in my car pleading with God to let this child meet his or her daddy. Per security procedures, all communications on his base were suspended, an apt term for how I felt during those quiet days.

The phone call I had been waiting for finally came. Unfortunately, the discussion was not what either of us intended. Somehow, we quickly steered into the unchartered territory of who had it worse. Years later, I’m still mortified by my reaction.

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