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  • Emily Echols

What Deployment Feels Like


I have a new analogy for deployments. It’s like you’re taking out the trash and the bag rips and stinky brown liquid drips out all over the floor and when you’re trying to put that bag into another trash bag the brown liquid drips all over the other bag so you get out another trash bag and end up dragging the brown liquid all through the pantry and the garage to get the bag outside and then spend ten minutes cleaning it up


when all you really needed

was another pair of hands.


All you want is another person to lean on. You just want to let go of the weight of your own body and transfer it to someone else, preferably someone bigger and stronger and solid. You want to crash into someone’s chest head-on and have them absorb your impact. Your own body feels too heavy to carry around.


You sneak chocolate in the pantry while simultaneously doing diastasis recti exercises because everything will be fixed when your spouse returns, even you, even your body that was broken by bearing two children.


You’re exhausted because your youngest has decided he’s ready to start potty training. He communicated this by pulling down his pants behind the curtains and pooping on the floor. So now every time you can’t find him, you check behind the curtains and plop that kid on the potty before he poops on the floor again. Then you spend the next thirty minutes singing while he sits on the potty. Every time you suggest that it’s time to get off, he says he’s, “Almost done.” And then your oldest child says he needs a sticker and a gummy bear too but you try to explain that he’s already potty trained. Then you give in and say he can have a celebratory gummy bear if his brother goes on the potty but he doesn’t and then the little one cries about not getting a gummy bear and doesn’t care about the sticker.


And there is no one else

to sit there on the bathroom floor

and sing

and explain

about why people are getting gummy bears.


When you drag the dripping trash bag outside you see a rainbow. It’s Technicolor bright. You can see every single color perfectly. So you run inside and tell your kids and they run outside barefoot in the chilly evening to see it. They’re always barefoot outside and you feel like maybe you should care but you don’t. The three of you stand there admiring the big, bright rainbow for a minute. It fades in size and then in brightness until it disappears. That was just what you needed to get through the next few months -a big bright rainbow, a reminder of God’s faithfulness.


Then you wrestle the little one back into a diaper after letting him wear training pants for an hour and he yells because you put him in long sleeved pajamas. You read books, sing songs, and give kisses.


Then you discover you did a bad job cleaning up the brown liquid and the pantry stinks. You clean it up again.


That’s what it feels like.

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