Life couldn’t have been more perfect for a while after that. We had our little family and Ivory and Frisbee were turning out to be the best of friends. Ivory was a proper little mother hen. She took it upon herself to make sure Fris had whatever he wanted. She was always bringing him toys, rolling around with him and giving him a bath. It was beautiful to see.
I wouldn’t say that life was easy being with someone in the military. Whenever Pete had a shift, he was away from home. If work called him, he had to go. It was never a choice, he had to do it. I think I found that the most difficult. Feeling like we didn’t have any control over our lives. In the military, you are technically paid 24 hours a day, although it only works out at a couple of pounds an hour. This means that they can call on you at any time, day or night. They can also cancel leave when the need arose and so planning anything was always done with it in the back of your mind that it may never happen. The worst thing was trying to book a holiday abroad. Although the experience is always exciting….I mean who doesn’t love a holiday……we had to make sure we took out travel insurance that also covered military personnel that had leave cancelled. That could be expensive when added to my medical condition. Everything was always just that little bit more difficult and it really stressed me out sometimes. I remember that we used to have petty little arguments because I would get mad over Pete having to be away. I was never mad at Pete, just the situation but as we all know, in the heat of the moment, things don’t always come out right and Pete felt like I was blaming him. I can guarantee that this has happened between every couple where one or both of them are military. It’s unavoidable. There was never any question that we would get through it though. You stick together no matter what is thrown at you.
With this in mind, we got to talking about the wedding and the future. We talked about what we wanted to do after we were married and after a lot of discussion, we decided that I would move with Pete into military housing. Although this meant that I would potentially have to look for new jobs whenever we were posted, it was worth it so that Pete could come home after every shift. I wont lie though. This was a hard decision for me as I am fiercely independent and had worked hard at my career to get to the level I was at and I enjoyed it. The thought of having to give up my job and career made me feel very sad and at some points very sick. It wasn’t really a choice though. On balance, being with Pete and having a happy, healthy home life was just more important.
Knowing what we now wanted to do, we set a date for the wedding for the 23rd of May 2009. We started to plan the wedding. Our first disagreement was over the fact that I didn’t want to wear a wedding dress. I am the biggest tom boy going and only tend to wear dresses when I am going out for a night out. The thought of wearing a big, white, girly dress just didn’t impress me. Pete was adamant that I couldn’t wear a white suit instead though so I had to suck it up and buy a dress. The normal wedding dress shopping consists of you going to a bridal shop and trying on dresses with friends or family and picking one that you fall in love with. My experience, however; was very different. I sat on my computer at home, looked at online catalogues, saw one that was the least girly and went….’I’ll have that one then’ and ordered it for the bargain price of £150. Not exactly a bonding experience…..although I did have both Ivory and Fris cuddled up with me so I guess I bonded with them ha ha ha.
Pete came home from work a few days later and explained that he had been having a chat with his boss and there had been word that some people were being dipped for deployments soon. This meant that they were being sent abroad for 4-6 months to do a tour of duty and it could be anywhere of the military’s choosing. The panic immediately set in. What if they sent him away over the date of the wedding? I don’t want him to go away for so long! What if they send him to Afghanistan? Pete explained that he had sat down with his boss to discuss it and he had suggested that Pete volunteer for a deployment rather than wait to be dipped. Although it still meant him being away, it was more likely that he would be sent very soon and then he would be back for the wedding. I still wasn’t happy but knew it was our best option. The next day, Pete submitted the paperwork to volunteer and we went back to planning the wedding.
Pete decided he would like to get married in his ‘Number 1 uniform’ and asked both of his brothers if they would be his best men. We had booked the Registry Office in Doncaster for the wedding as neither of us are religious and so didn’t want a church. We gave notice of our intention to marry and started planning the main parts of the wedding.
A couple of weeks later Pete came home from work and sat me down…….it had happened……he was being deployed. My heart dropped through the floor. He was being sent to the Falklands for 4 months and would make it back a few weeks before the wedding. Although this was the best we could have hoped for, it was still a huge shock as this was his first deployment.
The amount of times I have heard the following statement over the years is unbelievable ‘Well you knew what you were getting into when you got together/married him.’ I swear, sometimes I could hit people for that. Yes all military spouses are aware of this but it doesn’t make it any easier or hurt any less!! We all know that one day people are going to die…..it doesn’t change how you feel when it happens!! And no I’m not likening a deployment to death. It’s just a metaphor.
I was absolutely gutted and terrified!!