The first couple of days after Pete left were horrendous. I had no contact with him, which I had expected, but it actually felt like he had left me. I couldn’t see him, feel him, speak to him……it was the worst feeling. I knew he was just travelling….it takes a long time to get to the Falklands. I think that made it worse though. Knowing he was flying for that length of time and having to wait for so long to find out if he had arrived safely.
I cant remember exactly how long it was before I heard from him. It was 3 or 4 days I think. He called me to let me know he had arrived and was getting settled in and finding out what he would be doing during his deployment. He had enquired about communication facilities and was told that they did have internet access but that it was very unreliable and that they received a phone card each week that had a certain number of free minutes that they could use to call home. We discussed it and decided that he would call every other day for a few minutes at a time and he would email in between if the internet was working. This seemed like the best set up as then it wouldn’t seem like he was away if we could talk regularly.
The first week or two was the hardest. Trying to adjust to being on your own is harder than you realise. It’s not like being single again where you only have yourself to consider. You still have a partner/spouse and they have to be considered when making decisions etc. You also have to maintain the way of life that you have when they are home, only it was now my responsibility to do it all on my own. I only lived 20 minutes from my parents and sisters and so I could always jump in the car and drive over there when I got a bit lonely. It was the evenings that were the worst though. Locking the front door and everything was just so quiet. It was at this point that I realised what a comfort having the cats was. They were always on hand to snuggle up with and if I was feeling low, they seemed to know somehow and tried to make it better. They were my life line.
It was nice hearing from Pete every other day and we got into a steady routine after the first couple of weeks. He would call and tell me what he had been doing and I would fill him in on wedding plans and my days in general. It seemed we had found a way to make it work for us……..then everything started to change. It happened slowly so we didn’t realise it at first. Pete would call and we would chat but then the silences started creeping in. We found we didn’t have anything to say to each other. I know that sounds awful but let me explain……..the Falklands is a very quiet place with nothing to do and nowhere to go. There are only so many phone calls that you can go over doing the same thing day in, day out before it just becomes an ‘oh I did the usual today’ and you can’t think of anything else to say. Then from my side of the conversation I was following a routine just to get through the day and make sure everything was done and that I kept on top of everything. This meant I had nothing new to add either. Occasionally I had a wedding detail to go over but not during every conversation. To start with, the silences were quite companionable. We were quite comfortable just knowing we were on the phone to each other. The silences then started to become drawn out and awkward. Then the inevitable happened in this situation…….we started to argue. It wasn’t about anything in particular and we were both guilty of starting it. I can’t tell you what Pete must have been thinking after these conversations as I wasn’t in his shoes but I can tell you how I felt. There were times when I sat and cried. Firstly, it was from guilt over spending the few minutes we had arguing when he was so far away. Then it was the doubts creeping in……I don’t think there is a Military partner or spouse who hasn’t felt this when their other half is deployed or away. I asked myself over and over again…..’oh my god, is he realising he prefers being single now that he is living a single life over there?’ and ‘what if he doesn’t want to come back after all this arguing?’ I couldn’t help it. Every time I worked on wedding plans, I always had in the back of my mind…….’am I doing all this for him to say he doesn’t want it anymore?’ We did talk about it on the phone but how much can you really discuss in a few minutes every other day. It wasn’t easy…..