6 Reasons to be Thankful, Lessons from a First Deployment

Chris and Kim at Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina, after Chris returned from Afghanistan.

BY KIM VLACH

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for…

…My sweetheart and love-of-my-life Chris, a Captain in the U.S. Army, being back home safe and sound after his tour in Afghanistan over the summer.

I’m not that naïve to think that four months is a long time to be deployed. I know families get separated for much longer periods of time – and over multiple deployments.

But for me and for us, this was our first – and it was much harder than I had anticipated.

I digress. This post isn’t about how hard it was. This post is about how thankful I am for the lessons I learned.

    1. I am thankful for the friends and family who gave me their support while Chris was away. I’m especially grateful for getting to know Chris’s parents and sister much better – and getting the opportunity to get to know them on my own. I’m also very thankful for my neighbors (we’re new to this neighborhood) for checking in on me, helping me with the house, yard and dog and for inviting me over to their homes or out for dinner or to the movies.
    2. I am thankful for our puppy dog. Even though she drove me crazy at times – having her around sure helped me feel a lot less lonely.
    3. I am thankful for Skype. Being able to see Chris made an incredible difference compared to those days we could only use the phone.
    4. I am thankful for the U.S. Postal Service for getting all the goodies I sent to him as fast as possible so that they didn’t spoil.
    5. I am thankful for all the progress we made in how we communicate with each other. We were fortunate to be able to speak everyday, but not every conversation was fun. Sometimes we’d have to take care of household business. Sometimes our moods would provoke an argument. And sometimes – because of the stress or anxiety I was feeling – I’d be unable hold back my tears. Many people told me that I had to be strong for Chris, that it wasn’t fair to him to know that I was so sad, and that I shouldn’t distract him. But for us, we decided, hiding anything from each other wasn’t fair to our relationship. Chris told me that it wasn’t fair to me to have to pretend that everything was alright. As a couple, we had to be honest with what we were going through – and as a couple, we had to work together to get through this together.
    6. Last, but definitely not least, I am thankful for how close we’ve become. Sure, absence makes the heart grow fonder. But in this case, because we had to dig deep down and rely on our own individual strength to get ourselves through each day, I believe, it allowed us to grow closer as a couple. That strength that we found in ourselves allowed us to open our hearts even more to each other – in ways I had never thought were available, both in myself and in him.

And that is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. I wish you and your families a happy and blessed holiday.

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One Response

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