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With Deployment Looming, How Do You Measure a Year?

An installment in the New York Times Deployment Diary

“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred moments, so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?”

A favorite line, from a favorite song, in my favorite Broadway musical, “Rent.”

With two toddlers and a husband gone more than he’s home, so many of the lines in that song feel like they were written for me: “In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights and cups of coffee.” Given the chance to write a Navy wife version, I would add, “In ‘underways,’ in duty days, in flight delays, and constant uncertainties. In dinners alone, waiting by the phone, schedules unknown, but surreal opportunities.”

Credit T. T. Robinson

This time of year, this week between Christmas and New Year, is fraught with nostalgia and that “unmistakable melancholy that permeates the joy.” It’s hard to believe we celebrated our seventh anniversary this week, and next week we’ll celebrate our daughter’s fourth birthday. As memories often do, there exists a strange dichotomy between what feels like a million years ago and just yesterday.

I can’t help but think of the week before our baby girl was born. My husband had just returned from back-to-back deployments, encompassing the better part of two years. Although our home was in Guam, I wanted to deliver near my family in case he didn’t return from Iraq in time. Four years ago today, we sat alone on my parents’ couch in the Midwest, wishing we could be in Georgia with the rest of my family to watch my brother marry my beautiful sister-in-law. Instead, we ate Chinese delivery food and binge-watched episodes of “Parenthood,” hoping that would somehow prepare us for the adventures that lay ahead. It didn’t.

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