Well, friends, it’s here. I have been talking about Nick deploying for over a year, and he finally left. I know it probably seems like he’s been deployed for a while because he’s been gone pretty much the last year. But all of that was all to get ready for this deployment. Submarines are weird. They leave for months just to get ready to leave again.
Nick came back from an underway and had about a week before it was time to deploy. Just when I had gotten into the groove of him being gone, it was time for him to come home. I joked with my friends that it would be fine with me if he didn’t come home and went straight to deployment. That probably sounds weird to most people, but I didn’t want to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of them coming home and then leaving for a long deployment so quick.
I had very low expectations for our last week and last weekend together. But it was actually pretty nice. There were really late nights and we didn’t see each other that much. But Nick had already gotten almost everything he needed for deployment and we had most all of our home stuff organized. So, whatever time we had together we could mainly relax.
On Saturday, Nick came home from work around 5:00 pm. We made a list of the few things that we had left to do. It was nothing major. After we made the list, Nick asked me if I wanted to go to Honolulu for the night. Um, let me think about that…
So away we went! We went to Morimoto, walked on the beach, and had a few drinks. The next morning, we biked to ger breakfast and laid by the pool. It was a great night together. I was worried that the looming deployment would put a damper on things but I was able to put it out of my mind and just enjoy being with him.
The Day Before
I was kind of bummed that Nick came home so late the night before deployment. We were planning to go out to dinner and drink some wine. But duty called. It wasn’t anything special. He came home late, we took care of a couple of things, and went to sleep.
He started to get really upset, saying he didn’t want to leave. I think that it had finally hit him that he was deploying. I felt really bad but honestly, I was so emotionally exhausted and just ready for deployment to start that I didn’t have those same feelings. I felt bad and kind of guilty, but I felt like I had already processed the emotions Nick was finally just processing.
The First Goodbye
I got up at 5:00 am with Nick. I was wide awake so I started texting everyone that today was the day Nick was leaving while Nick got ready. No one had known the date, which had made the previous week even harder. I couldn’t vent or complain or tell anyone what was going on. That’s the silent service for you.
I drove Nick to work and we sat in the car just hugging each other for a good while. I knew that I would have to be the one to say goodbye for real because Nick never can. He was tearing up so I tried to be the strong one saying it was going to be okay. We got out of the car and I gave him a hug and said “see you at the picnic” because I didn’t want to say goodbye and because I really was going to see him a few hours later.
I went home and didn’t know what to do with myself. Nick and I decided to write in journals that we will give to each other after deployment is over since we can’t communicate during deployment. So I just started writing in my journal.
I had never heard of this until I came to Hawaii, so I’m not sure if it’s just a Hawaii thing, but we had what is nicknamed “sad picnic” for two hours before the submarine left. My friends and I got into my car and drove back to base to say goodbye again, this time in front of everyone.
For two hours, we all sat around, some of us eating, most of us not eating. We joked around and made small talk before it was time for the guys to get back on the boat and actually leave. Imagine watching everyone cry and say goodbye to their spouses. Imagine children crying and running around and hugging their daddies. That’s the end of sad picnic, the last thing you do before your submariner deploys. It’s depressing.
I have a group of friends from the boat and once we all had said goodybe, we met up outside the gate and just started hugging each other. Once we saw a little girl crying to her dad, we decided we had had enough of the sad picnic. We went to a restaurant on base to have lunch and joked that we had made it through Hour 1.
The Final Goodbye
Then it was time for one final goodbye. We went over to a spot on base where you can watch the submarine go by. I knew that Nick would be on top of the submarine. I couldn’t tell which one was him, but I waved and I could tell that all of the guys up top were waving back.
It was raining and we were hugging and crying an just so thankful to be done with that long day. We went to another friend’s house, ordered pizza, and watched Legally Blonde before falling asleep at her house. It ended up being a really fun night. We ate pizza and cookies and candy and whatever we the hell wanted, all while drinking wine. Seriously, Legally Blonde is the cure for any mood. We spent the rest of the weekend glued to each other. We went on a hike, went to the beach, and drank a lot of wine.
“Live Like He Deploys Tomorrow”
I get the sentiment behind this phrase, but really, the day before deployment is probably the worst day of deployment. There is all of this pressure for it to be a great last night together, but there is packing to do and last minute things to organize and work to do. You want to soak up every minute together, memorize their face, soak in their smell. But you are also ready to say goodbye so that they can come home. So no, please don’t live like he’s deploying tomorrow. That’s really depressing.
The first day of deployment was emotionally exhausting, but now I feel good. I feel like I can tackle this deployment. I have a list of goals that I will be sharing soon and I am already working on achieving them!! I have a friend coming to visit in about a week and then another visitor coming right after that. I pretty much have the next 6 months totally planned out, with visitors and trips and lots of fun here in Hawaii. Let’s do this.
Ugh the sad picnic sounds so totally depressing! I’m glad that you made it through the hard part of saying goodbye, and it sounds like you have a lot on your plate for this deployment so hopefully it goes by quickly so Nick can come home quickly!
Wow – girl you wrote this so well and come across as so strong. In the 80’s my dad was deployed to Iran as a helicopter pilot for 6 months – my sister was 4 and I was 7 – and the emotional toll it had on us was excrutiating. I don’t know how my mum got through it quite frankly (like you refer to it was probably that group of women also going through what she was – the men had the support mechanisms then but not their families) – just this extra steel that military partners have in their bones I think. 30 years on she still has that steel running through her – you take that strength in all the emotions that it comes out through and be your best you.
It’s wonderful that you’ve developed coping methods for this – and it’s true, military spouses do develop extra steel in their bones sadly!
I definitely feel the day before deployments is the worst. Sending lots of love your way!
Thanks for sharing such an intimate time for you guys – military life is so foreign to me but I love reading your honest accounts, and really feel like it is expanding my view/knowledge of other ways of life, and also such a big population in America! It sounds like such a tough time and tbh that sad picnic sounds more like masichistic picnic?? Anyway it sounds like you are lucky to have an amazing group of friends supporting you right now, have such a positive attitude, and I’m super excited to read your list of goals for deployment!
I’m glad you could be with your close friends for Hour 1. I feel like that was a very crucial moment for you. Nick is going to do great and feel so loved and comforted by your care packages and notes!! And you’re going to have an AWESOME time and have so much to share with him once he’s home! Way to keep a good attitude, Carolann! I wish I could help distract you with hiking and wine! Lol. Can’t wait to read those goals!!
This sounds really so hard. I’m sorry it was such a difficult time, for obvious reasons! I teared up thinking about you waving goodbye to him as he was standing on the top of the submarine. I hope these next months go quickly for you and you have lots of fun with visitors! Thanks for sharing this with us.
I’m sorry Carolann. The day before deployment is so freakin hard and the ‘sad picnic’ sounds excruciating. We had something similar with all the families spending the morning with the guys as a group before they left and it was horrible. Sending you all my thoughts and hugs. You got this, friend!
I cant even begin to imagine how hard deployment is! I get all teary eyed just thinking about it. I totally get what you mean about thinking it would be easier in some ways if you didn’t have that week between. Sending you all the hugs!
Girl, this post… Thank you for sharing, really touching and really tugs at your heart strings. I was spared all of the pre-prep that goes into a deployment as my ex-Navy guy was in Japan and I was/am in Singapore. The sad picnic, gaaah!