Even though this will be deployment number 7 for our family, I am still anxious when our boys are deployed. We have an ex-Marine, 1 active duty Army, 1 active duty Army Reserve, and a Sailor. All have been deployed at least once.
I have found some things that help me cope while they're gone:
1. The most important thing is to rely on faith and prayer.
2. I spend more time on military parent forums visiting with other parents who are also experiencing the same waves of emotion that I am: deep pride mixed with fear.
3. Keep busy with other things.
4. Send e-mails and care packages regularly. Though, to be honest, I could do better with this.
5. Keep as informed as possible about what's going on in the area of the world where they are. I depend on blogs that deal with trouble spots to give me a better picture of events taking place.
6. Jeff's captain is really good about leaving recorded messages, and I often visit the ship's website to read and look at pictures about it.
The Internet is a great thing. Our Marine was deployed to the Gulf in 1998 when the African embassies were bombed. I didn't have Internet access, and had no idea of where to look for information on what was happening. I was a basket case. Brian was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, and then it was a case of too much information all of the time. That was also unnerving.
When I have asked my sons to tell me about what they're doing, I get the standard response: "Oh, just the same old thing." But I don't know what "the same old thing" is. It helped me understand Navy deployments last year when PBS aired the series "Carrier" that coincided with Jeff's deployment to the Pacific.
Surprisingly enough, David does better with deployments than I do. He has to remind me that a) they are well trained, and b) in Jeff's case, he is on an aircraft carrier that is well protected. I know that, but I never completely relax until I know they're safely back on US soil.