What It Is


What is deployment?

I don’t know what it is for the brave and heroic ones fighting, willing to sacrifice all.

I’m not a Marine or a Soldier. Not a Sailor or an Airman.

I’m a wife who loves a Marine. A mother of children who call a Marine “Daddy.”

I do know what it is for us.


Deployment is waiting in a room full of people, at 3 am, catchy pop music doing a poor job of lightening the mood. Looking around and recognizing the dread-filled anticipation on the faces of the other wives, sweethearts, mothers and children.

It’s explaining to two little boys that Daddy will be leaving in just a little while. Wishing they were old enough to understand the passing of time. Being thankful they aren’t.


It’s the jumpy-anxious feeling of not knowing exactly when the moment is coming. Wondering if we’ll have warning when it’s time to say goodbye.

It’s hoping each second will stretch and multiply, while wanting to get it over as quickly as possible.


It’s looking into his eyes, longing to etch every feature, every laugh line, every movement into memory.

It’s the nauseousness of hearing him told it’s time to move outside to the buses.

It’s picking up the little boys and feeling their panic.

It’s reminding them to give Daddy extra hugs and kisses.

It’s a Daddy and little boys who won’t be separated in the final minutes, not even for formation. And nobody cares.


It’s the whirlwind of the moment.

A hug.

A kiss.

Urging the boys toward him.

Another kiss.


Touching hands. Touching his face.


Unable to breathe.

Hold me, beloved.

“No, Daddy! Don’t go!”

Watching him walk away.



Shoulder his camouflage bag and step onto the white bus.

It’s a two year old, hysterical.

I need my daddy!”

Sobbing. Screaming. Inconsolable.

It’s waving as they drive away.

Hoping he catches us in the sea of hands.

Hoping we’re waving at the right person through the tinted windows.

The buses round the corner.


It’s walking back to the car.

Turning the ignition.

Wondering how a heart can hurt… can love… so much.

97 Responses to What It Is

  1. Mega Remix Bounce It March 12, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Just good writeup. It was some sort of enjoyment bank account the idea. Search complex to help a lot more added agreeable from you finding out! Nevertheless, precisely how may possibly we all connect?

  2. Jody Silkey September 21, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    What a touching post, I love your blog! I’m so glad you told me about it.
    This post made me get very teary, you are a wonderful writer. I just want you to know that it is an honor to be your son’s teacher, you’re doing a great job with him!

  3. Karen June 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    You are so wise beyond your years! Praying for protection over your Marine…and strength and peace for you and your little boys!
    I’ve enjoyed following your journey over the years! Thanks for being so transparent in your writing.

  4. Sara June 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    My heart was with you as I read this post. Your whole family are heroes as are all the miltary families over the world. Praying hard for you all till you are together again xx

  5. Kat June 2, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Wow, Well done. Powerful.

  6. Amanda April 12, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    I am sitting here crying and can’t imagine how it feels! My husband is thinking of joining the Army and we have a 2yr old and a 1 year old and I’m trying hard to figure out how to ease the pain for them while he is gone but as your post shows you can’t and it breaks my heart thinking about it! I pray for you and your family! Thank you for sharing such moments with everyone!

  7. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) April 12, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I can’t even imagine!!! I am so sorry – you all have to sacrifice WAY TOO MUCH!!!

  8. Sara @ Life with the Two April 12, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    This post is absolutely amazing. You are amazing.

    I am an Air Force wife. I could not do your job. Thank you for doing what so many of us can’t.

    You summed this crazy part of our lives so beautifully.

    Sending hugs and prayers your way.

  9. Pattie April 2, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    {{{{{{{{Ashleigh and boys}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
    There are not words.

  10. tiffany March 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    I can barley type cause i cant see the screen… I love you so much!!

  11. Amanda in FL March 26, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Hi Ashleigh, I came across a link to your blog on Tammysrecipes.com and have really enjoyed reading what you have to say! This post in particular really hit a cord with me because I, too, am a military wife and went through the experience you described just last July. I remember the ache well! My husband just returned from Iraq in January, 2 weeks earlier than the rest of his unit for the birth of our first child, a daughter named Maggie. He is slated to leave again for 7 months later this year. I pray that God will grant you and your boys peace and comfort while your Marine is away and that he will stay safe. Numbers 6:24-26
    Blessings, Amanda

  12. åslaug abigail March 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm #


  13. Sarah March 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Hey Ash,
    I’m crying reading that and the heart wrentching pictures–it just breaks my heart. Praying for you and all your boys everyday. Love you!!!

  14. Deana March 21, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Tears are streaming down my face and I do not even know you. I can not thank you enough for all the sacrifice you are enduring to protect our country.
    Abba, Father bless this family with smiles and laughter as the time passes by. Give Ashleigh strength to walk this path and lean into you each day. Protect her husband with angels as he contends with an enemy that honors another as God. And Lord I ask that you release the fullness of your Holy Spirit into the details of their lives. Let peace,hope, and love abound. Father I beg divine provision for this family in all ways. I claim defeat of the enemy on earth as it has already been pronounced in heaven. In Jesus name, AMEN!

  15. åslaug abigail March 19, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Oh, Asleigh, I always cry reading your deployment-posts, I don’t think I ever cried as much as over this one.
    It is beautifully written.

    I’ve been thinking so much about you.

    You’re brave, and God is right there with you, holding you. I’ll be praying for you and your boys at home, and your husband’s safety.

    åslaug abigail

  16. denise jones March 18, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    you are beautiful and brave.

    may God sustain you, provide, lavish his love on you, your boys, your husband.

  17. Stephanie March 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Ashleigh, you made me cry with your pictures and your stirring words. You are a brave woman and I wish you and your boys much peace and joy in the upcoming months.

  18. Cari March 18, 2010 at 7:08 am #


    I am weeping for you. with you. As a former soldier, I only know what it feels like to leave…not what it feels like to stay behind. It is every bit as agonizing, but somehow, the uniform dulls that pain a bit…the purpose…the git ‘r done attitude comes over you and you can zone part of it out…not all the time…but mostly in that moment. Thank you for letting me see it through your eyes, a mother’s eyes….my heart is heavy for you. I am praying that God holds you and him in his hands over these next months.

  19. Tracey March 18, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    Weeping and praying for you!

    Thanks for your guest post at Sarah’s. Nice to meet you!

  20. Sarah Ann March 18, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    Praying for you, Ashleigh. I am sure I can just begin to imagine what you are going through, and it makes me cry. But remember that the Lord is with you all the way and will help you through. Lean hard on Him.

    Love in Christ,
    Sarah Ann
    (a YLCF reader)

  21. heidi @ wonder woman wannabe March 17, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    that was just beautiful
    someone captured some wonderful photos of ya’ll too

  22. Katelyn March 17, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    I don’t know you and just found your blog through a site link to this post.

    However, I am an Air Force wife and our first child is due this summer. We have been lucky enough to not go through a deployment, yet. But I know that won’t last much longer. I can anticipate the aching and emptiness you feel now.

    I hope the time flies by for you and your boys and that he returns safe and sound. Thank you.

  23. Jennifer March 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    We, too, are going through a sort of “deployment” separation with Dad.
    Let’s lean on each other. Email anytime.
    I wish I could make the time fly by for you all.
    Safe thoughts.

  24. Julie Todd March 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    This is absolutely heart wrenching….

    Thank you for painting a picture of what it looks like. My husband was in the service when we first married (Coast Guard) but he was stationed on land. I cannot fathom what you are going through, as he was only gone 1 month out of the two before his term ended.

    Thank you to your husband for serving and protecting. Thank you for you for keeping the home fires burning. I admire you!

    This is my first visit here. It’s great to meet you. I’d love for you to visit my blog if you’d like. I love meeting new people.


  25. Alicia The Snowflake March 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    Words cannot express the tears or the lump in my throat. Praying for you and your fellas!

  26. Muthering Heights March 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    That is just heartbreaking!!!!

    I’m so thankful for the sacrifices your family makes…but wishing that they weren’t so hard on you. :(

  27. mrs. darling March 16, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    thank you. those two words are pathetically inadequate, make my heart twist and turn as i look for something better in light of your sacrifice…thank you so very much.

  28. Nicole March 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    Love you, Ash. So much. Wishing I could hug you and the boys right now.

  29. christie March 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    as a wife who’s husband will be out of the Army in a few months, and who’s gone through 1 1/2 deployments- you captured it perfectly.
    I love the photos.

    It’ll be ok. :) Some how it’ll be over before you know it.

  30. Megan (FriedOkra) March 16, 2010 at 11:37 am #


    I miss him for y’all and I know exactly the feeling you’re describing here. I hope you guys can find a new, less achey normal quickly and that the time passes sosofast for your entire family.

    Be safe, John. And thanks a basquillion times over.

  31. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 16, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    Crying. Praying.

  32. Brianna March 16, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Thank you. Truly.

  33. daring2bdifferent March 16, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    Oh, that made the screen and my keys so hard to see now; they’re all blurry! I will be praying even harder for selfless you, your brave husband, and your adorable little boys. Thank you so much for your family’s sacrifice!!! Much love, many prayers, and lots hugs!
    ~Amy P.

  34. Lindsey Nobles March 16, 2010 at 7:26 am #

    Thank you for the sacrifices YOU and YOUR FAMILY make to keep us all safe. I wish I could do something, anything to carry this burden with you. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  35. dearabbyleigh March 16, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    i’m definitely crying now and thinking of you in your new home while i visit the old. thanks for sharing this, friend. we’re here for your.

  36. Amber March 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Typing this through blurry eyes. I LOVE you and those boys and will be praying for you every day. John’s safety and strength will also be in my prayers. Thank you all for your sacrifice. <3 hugs


  37. kathy March 15, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    This broke my heart. Tears. Praying for you and your family. Each day may you be sustained. Thank you for sharing. Love and prayers.

  38. Heaven Sent March 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    Wow… I am in tears for your family and overwhelmingly thankful for your sacrifice. I can’t imagine. Praying God will give you the strength you need on the good days and the bad days.

    Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough, but thank you.

  39. Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting March 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    You took me right back to the gut-wrenching feelings I felt when my husband went over. I am here if you ever need to talk, to cry, or yell, scream, anything, ok? *huge hugs*

  40. LeAnna March 15, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    Praying…oh, are we all praying.

  41. Sara March 15, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    Oh my goodness! This made me cry! My cousin is deployed to Afghanistan and his wife is inconsolable! PRAYING 4 YOU!

  42. Marie March 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    I’ll be keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so thankful we have Marines like your husband and wonderful Marine wives like yourself to back them up.

  43. Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae March 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Sending love and hugs your way. I’d bring you Nutella if I could. :-)

  44. We are THAT family March 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Praying for you. You’re all heroes in my book. (hugs)

  45. Corinne March 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

    Oh my… I came over via a retweet on twitter… and the tears!
    My heart goes out to you and your family. You’re in my prayers.

  46. Miss Britt March 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm #


  47. Amy March 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    My tears are streaming. You are as much a warrior as he is Ashleigh, and as I look at my own 3 kids, one of them 2 and half years old too, and breathe through the place I can feel your pain, I see the length of this crazy, crazy love. May you feel a supernatural grace upholding you as you walk through this season my friend. xx

  48. Ginger March 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Oh Ashleigh, my heart is breaking…
    Praying every day,

  49. Elizabeth in Alaska March 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    ::hugs and tears::

  50. To Think Is To Create March 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    “…feeling their panic.”

    Thud. Ugh.

    That first picture, y’all look so sad.

    I know you are feeling the feelings of loss, in your own way of losing. The days and months ahead. I will pray for you each night, ok? EACH.

    I’m so glad we have technology so you can still see/hear/read him now and then. So, so glad.


  51. Gretchen Acheson March 15, 2010 at 5:25 pm #


    Those pictures coming back to my memory keep me praying for you…and crying for you…


  52. Hannah C. is now Hannah O. March 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Praying for you, and your family, and your husband. As it did for so many others, this post brought tears to my eyes.


  53. Elyce Westby March 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Ashleigh, I still remember the moment, too. The moment when my beloved boarded a bus, starting his year-long journey to Iraq. No words can describe the intensity, the sorrow, the longing, the hope.

    I completely know how you feel. And I am lifting you and your family in prayer continually.

    God Bless- and rest, rest in the Everlasting Arms.


  54. Christine March 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Praise God for the hundreds of thousands of military families around the world who have done or are doing exactly this. I cannot fathom the depth of emotion that comes with being a Marine wife. Praise God for you and your family. I’ve prayed for you over the last several days as something in my world has brought you to mind. Praying for you, your boys and for John.

  55. Becca March 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Here I am… crying for you, with you.

    I am so thankful to your family for going through this for my family, and I am so sorry that you have to go through this.

  56. Heather March 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Tears and more tears…so.very.hard. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday which makes my heart just ache for you and the boys

  57. Bernadine March 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    My heart aches for you.
    I will be praying for you and your family, that the God of peace will comfort you and that your marine will return safely to your loving arms.

  58. Jennifer March 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Oh my goodness… your post brings back memories and such raw emotion. I can only imagine how much harder it is with children involved. It makes me want to go home and hug my husband a little harder… and forget all of the petty arguments we’ve been having. You write beautifully. Praying for his safe return and that this time would pass quickly for you and your sweet family.

  59. Darcy March 15, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    As I sit here in tears, having looked at every picture, living every emotion you experienced through your writing, all that comes to my mind is that you are an amazing woman, Ashleigh.

    A few years ago, my husband was sent to London on business for two weeks, two weeks and I was a mess the day I was to take him to the airport. I know that the emotions and feeling I had that day are only a fraction of what it must be to be apart from your beloved for weeks, months, a year.

    YOU are in my thoughts, in my prayers, and on my heart….

  60. Tee March 15, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    I can’t even imagine what you and your boys are going through at this moment. I will be praying for you, your boys and your husband! Thank you for serving our country. You are just as much a part of that service as if you had been deployed. May the Lord give you peace.

  61. Christine March 15, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Don’t even know what to say.

    “And as thy days are, so shall thy strength be” (deuteronomy)

    Praying that God will hold you guys up and give you strength that is beyond comprehension.

  62. Miranda March 15, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    Every post I read, my heart breaks a little bit for you and your precious boys. I pray the Lord will hold you tight in his arms and carry you through this time. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for you; I admire you so much. Thank you for the sacrifice you and your family make.

  63. Jane March 15, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    As the mother of 2 marines, I’ve often wondered the difference in how I feel and how a wife feels in the same situations. I understand now. You brought tears to my eyes and my heart aches along with you. I’ve had one of my sons home with me the past week but will be putting him on the plane tomorrow so he can return to his unit. Thankfully, he won’t be deploying soon, but I imagine I’ll feel some of those same emotions you describe as he leaves. I’ll be keeping your Marine in my prayers.

  64. Katie March 15, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    Hugs to you, dear friend.
    Strength and joy for the moment, each moment, is my prayer for you.

  65. Laura March 15, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    *wiping away the tears*

    I can’t even begin to imagine what you and the boys are going through. All I can do is pray. Pray for your husband’s safety, pray for you raising the kids without your husband’s help, and pray that the time flies.

    Military life can be so hard!

  66. Chantel March 15, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Tears flowing and a heart full… thinking of you, praying that His arms are extra, extra tight around you right now.

    Love you oodles…

  67. Chrissie March 15, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Love you, Sweet Ashleigh. Thinking of you and shedding tears with you.
    I’m going to go look up flights to CO.

  68. Rochelle March 15, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    Oh my gosh, I’m sooo sorry. What a sweet, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing your deepest feelings with us so that we could get some sense of what it must be like.

    Hugs & prayers for you all!

  69. Melissa Brotherton March 15, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    Oh man. You totally made me cry.

    For the next 8 weeks my husband has a night class one night a week and I was wondering this morning how we’d endure it. Thanks for giving me a little perspective.

    Praying for you and your boys. Praying for safety for your husband.

    Thank you.

  70. Sarah March 15, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Typing through tears. Praying for y’all!

  71. kaira March 15, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Hurting with you – and remembering you all in prayer. ((Hugs))

  72. Jaclynn March 15, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    That made me cry this morning…and praying for you dearie and your sweet boys too. Everything you wrote painted the picture so well.

  73. Karsten March 15, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Tears. Praying for you girl! Crying with you and for you!

  74. Nadia March 15, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    Here in Chicago, crying with you… praying for you.

  75. bessie.viola March 15, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Oh, Ashleigh. Still crying, and still praying. I remember the moment that my sister was taken away via van for her flight to basic training. You captured the moments perfectly.

    Holding you in prayer, sending you strength.

  76. Marissa Whitney March 15, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    And I thought experiencing a long distance relationship was really hard. *HUG* Praying for you guys…

  77. Miriam March 15, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    After reading this, I’m so ashamed at how often I complain about my husband being gone for a 12-hour work day, or a 7-day work week. But at least I see him nearly every day.

    My heart aches for you. But I am challenged to treasure every moment I have with my guy.

    Thank you.

  78. Sarah March 15, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    Praying for you guys. . . and thank you SO much for your family’s sacrifice. We are so grateful.

  79. Leah March 15, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    *grabs a kleenex to wipe away the tears* Ashleigh, you made me cry this morning!

    As Samantha said, this post was so beautiful and yet so heart wrenching..

    Thinking of you all much these days.

  80. Carrie March 15, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    I can not even imagine… praying for you my friend…

  81. Samantha R March 15, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    I’m bawling my eyes out… that was written in the most beautiful, heart-wrenching way. And for a second, I thought I could feel what you were feeling at that moment.
    And those pictures… they say a thousand words or more.
    much love and prayers for you all!

  82. ladyfelicity March 15, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    I’m praying …


  83. Jenny March 15, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    Oh Ashleigh…that brought tears to my eyes.

    Thank you for your service to our country.

  84. Megan March 15, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    Sending lots of love your way….

    Praying for you today!

  85. Kati March 15, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    Crying for you. Thank you for your family’s sacrifice.

  86. Allison March 15, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    That was powerful! Thank you so much for sharing your story and please know you are being lifted up in prayer.

  87. jAne March 15, 2010 at 5:21 am #

    (*(*( holding you in prayer )*)*)


  88. qin March 15, 2010 at 5:01 am #

    Have faith. Be Strong. The Lord will guide and hold you close to Him.


  1. Our Bookshelves - Kindred Grace - February 27, 2014

    […] of the YLCF Team Members (those who aren’t in the midst of cross-country moves and beginning deployment, that is!).  And start taking pictures of your own books: we’re having a bookshelf photo […]

  2. The YearJust Passed | life, laughter and little things - October 11, 2010

    […] of being in love. And I treasure every moment, because now I understand a little more what this sacrifice must cost the heart that loves so […]

  3. Heart & Home » Story Beauty - May 18, 2010

    […] sure I feel like doing that. I don’t want to have to tell anyone about me and my family and the deployment and all my messiness. But I probably won’t have to, right? I don’t know anyone there, […]

  4. Heart & Home » Raindrops On Roses – SheyB Camera StrapsGiveaway Week - May 15, 2010

    […] amazing. He takes many of the pictures I post here. Well, when he’s not in Afghanistan, that […]

  5. Heart & Home » Intentional - April 9, 2010

    […] between us. We agreed we needed to make some changes in our lives (yes, realizing he was about to leave for Afghanistan, but knowing we would continue to grow alongside each other even while he was gone). We can both be […]

  6. Heart & Home » Rollercoaster - March 24, 2010

    […] What It Is […]

  7. Heart & Home » Losing It–Week Sumthin’ - March 19, 2010

    […] What It Is […]

  8. Our Bookshelves | Young Ladies Christian Fellowship - March 17, 2010

    […] of the YLCF Team Members (those who aren’t in the midst of cross-country moves and beginning deployment, that is!).  And start taking pictures of your own books: we’re having a bookshelf photo […]

  9. Uwrapping Normal « Melissa Brotherton - March 16, 2010

    […] I read this… And I […]

Leave a Reply