Sending your loved one off for an extended deployment overseas comes with many emotions. Sadness. Anxiety. Worry. Heartbreak. Confusion. I think the biggest one we deal with is fear.
I tell myself a few times a day that my husband, Matt, is safe. I don't need to worry about him. It's all going to be OK. But there is a voice inside my head that creeps up to tell me the terrible truth: "It's war. People die." It's a fear like none I have ever experienced. Even though Matt is in a situation that is fairly low risk compared to many other military members overseas, the risk is there. And it haunts me.
Unfortunately, it haunts our kids, as well. They fear Daddy won't come home. They are old enough to know what war is.
The heartbreaking part about this for me, as a parent, is that I can't make any promises to my kids, or even to myself.
I wish I could tell the boys, "He will come home safely." I wish I could hear Matt say the same to me. But we can't make promises. We can't say with 100-percent assurance that something bad won't happen. It's not wise to make a promise that you know you might not be able to keep.
We can wish and pray for his safe return all day long, and wish and pray we do. The only promise I can offer is this one to my husband: We won't stop wishing and praying for you.
Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries from a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.