Extended

I expected it would happen…but held out hope that it wouldn’t.

In 2007, when I was getting on a plane to Iraq for my first deployment, the US military was in a surge. It was in the news. It was all we talked about. Everyone in our unit knew of units that had been extended. The unit we were to replace was finishing up 3 extra months in country, making their 12 month deployment 15 months.

I expected it to happen but hoped—by some miracle, or oversight—that our little unit would slip through the cracks and just do 12 months.

I got my extension notice within 24 hours of setting foot in Iraq.

Today, I again feel like I am getting on a plane and hoping for the best. As COVID cases increase across the Country, I get that feeling that timelines are about to shift on me again. I thought I had a general idea of when things would end and I could get back to normal. Maybe my timeline was linked to the seasons, or school schedules, or the holidays…but as I sit trying to make plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I start to wonder if my deployment is about to be extended.

How long will this last…

It is easy to focus on all the things I am missing. Deployed to Iraq, I missed weddings, reunions, ski trips, and going out on the weekend. Every day felt like the one before and like the one after. My life was on pause and everyone else was moving one without me.

The timeline isn’t mine.

As 2020 starts to look like 2021, it’s easy to focus on the bad news of what could come. I can refresh my news feeds, flip the channels, or frantically pour through dashboard data. I can look to other cities, states, and countries to try to see what could be next. I piece together stories, charts, and maps – all in an effort to project when this will end.

Bring on the extension.

Unlike Iraq, the COVID deployment won’t take me away from my family, into a foreign country, or expose me to war. I watch movies with my husband, play with the kids, and call my mom every single day. I go to Costco, get meals delivered to my door, and explore the natural beauty of our Country through some incredible parks.

If 2021 brings more time with my family; if I can sit under a tree, watch the leaves fall, and have a beer; if back deck dinners are becoming fire pit evenings…than maybe deployment isn’t all that bad.

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