Military family separation is a complex issue. There is a bizarre psychological cycle that many military couples undergo before a separation. Before he leaves, neither of them can stand to be around each other, everything the other one does is an irritation, and they can't wait for the separation to begin. All the angry noise may be invalid, but building up that artificial fight beforehand is part of the self-defense mode that the mind goes into.

As a couple, we have managed to escape that cycle, largely, because we knew to expect it. It helps that I'm independent and have done my own roaming 'round far off lands. But I once experienced an unexpected anger that popped up immediately after he came back from a very long deployment. I was completely thrown off, because I was so glad to see him, had missed him for so long, and did not understand. Experience and family support classes with the Navy had prepared him for this, and he explained it very simply: "You're mad at me because I went away."

Oh.

Comprehending the "Why" did make it easier to process. Yesterday morning I kissed my sailor and saw him off for a trip that will have him gone for Valentine's Day. In nine years, I think we've had three together. I don't try to keep count of holidays together vs missed, which is part of the complexity I was talking about. It's just too difficult to keep track.

Yesterday was no easier or harder than any of the others. It doesn't matter if he will be gone days, weeks, or months. The day before there always comes a moment when I burst into tears and ask him to please not go. There's no help for it, and it's better to let it out than keep it in. I snivel for a few minutes, then it's over and I'm okay. He knows he's loved and will be missed, and importantly, knows that I'm okay. I've got my candle-making work, family & friends, tai chi, and our three furry kids to focus on and keep busy. Okay, so making aromatherapy candles doesn't really feel like work, but still, it's a business...

Will we both be bummed on Valentine's? Yepper. Will we have a make-up Valentine's date? You betcha.

I miss you, my sailor, and thank you for your service.