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One hundred and forty-four days

One hundred and forty-four days.

When I say it aloud, it feels like a lot. And a short amount of time, because I know it should have been longer. It should have been longer because my husband had to stay behind and finish a school for the Navy, PNEO (Prospective Nuclear Engineering Officer). The timing of his class meant he had to stay behind and finish PNEO for a couple extra weeks after his crew had already left.

Those were weeks of bliss. I'm sure for him it was challenging-- PNEO is a lot of studying. But, from my perspective, the PNEO schedule was much better than the boat schedule. He would study in the morning, come home for lunch, study in the afternoon, and come home shortly after I picked the children up from school.

It felt like I actually got to spend time with my husband. It was the perfect way to spend our last couple weeks before deployment.

Because, in the blink of an eye, our lazy mornings in bed together were gone. Our family evenings together were gone. Our weekday Costco trips were gone. Our quiet lunches together at home-- while the baby napped and the toddler babbled adorably with us-- were gone. PNEO did end and deployment did come.

He missed our last baby turning 1 years old. He missed traveling overseas kid-free with me for a wedding of a close family friend. He missed my birthday. He missed our toddler's 3rd birthday. He missed our oldest's 9th birthday. He missed our twin 6-year olds learning how to swim-- actually learning how to swim-- and jumping off the high dive into the deep end.

Our last baby was already taking wobbly steps at 11 months old when he left. She was our earliest walker, standing independently at 9 months old. But now she really moves-- really walks. She runs. She climbs and plays. She started talking. Her first phrase is, "I love you," and that pretty much sums up her personality. At 16-months, she says many things, but she doesn't say, "Dadda." Not yet.

He missed my dad's heart stopping and being rushed to the hospital, eventually getting a pacemaker. I sent a Red Cross message to the boat for that and we got a crackly satellite phone call with a major delay so our conversation was stilted and awkward, both of us wishing he was here.

He missed my vehicle breaking down 3 different times, one time being towed from the center shoulder on a major freeway with all 5 children.

He missed late nights with crying children. He missed tear filled evenings with doors slamming and sobbing from both sides of the door. He missed apologies and I love yous. He missed, "Mom! Mom! You have to see what I learned at school today!" and he missed, "Mom, can you make it better?" He missed, "I want to sit in your lap," and he missed, "Watch this, Mom!"

He missed warm summer walks to the pool, where the boys skipped ahead, anxious to see if their friends were there already. He missed the last couple days of summer, as the heat held on and so did my heart, dreading a change of season without him here. He missed sweat-streaked faces smiling wide after basketball practice and autumn walks with tiny heads bent over while chubby hands poked at bugs crawling under leaves. He missed kisses on fevered foreheads and back pain carrying sleeping toddlers up the stairs to bed. He missed mopping the bathroom floor after bath time splashing turned into dumping all the water out of the tub. He missed wide blue eyes rimmed with tears turning up at me, "I really miss Daddy." He missed toddler tantrums in Costco and our twin 6-year olds getting into a fist fight at the park. He missed our 9-year old sullen for days because he missed his dad, missed his best friend, missed how everything was, "I want it like it was."

He missed one hundred and forty-four days with our children.

He missed the end of last school year and the start of this one. He missed Meet the Teachers and Back to School Night.

He missed 2 teeth being pulled by one of our 1st graders. One time, the Tooth Fairy forgot to come. (Oops!)

He missed our last baby getting her first teeth.

I know other deployments are longer.

I know we had an amazing and incredible amount of support from my family while he was deployed.

I know I need to be thankful that we got those extra weeks with him because of PNEO.

I am.

I am PRAISING GOD he is coming home safe.

I am praising God we had help and support during this deployment.

I am praising God he had PNEO before this deployment. After the crazy submarine schedules we've been dealing with, it was a breath of fresh air-- especially when we knew he was deploying. That time was a gift.

I am praising God that these one hundred and forty-four days are in the past and that we will be together again.

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