I asked William to share some of his reflections on having a father who is a military chaplain. William is 15 and in French Immersion.
This is his reflection:
The largest part of living the military family life, are postings. I always longed to live in a small town where everyone knew each other’s names, and you could find someone by going to the local post office or restaurant. I envied those who were grounded in a hometown. My Mom told me what I wanted was only achievable by going back to the year 1950, but it was a dream, nonetheless. Reflecting on it now, however, I always feel a sort of sorrow for those who remain in one place. At this point of my 15 years, I get squirrelly when I stay in one place for a long time, I often itch for something different. I think this same feeling applies to where one lives. Sure, you know all the names and locations, but don’t you ever wish you knew more names and locations? These two feelings conflict, as you can imagine, envy and sorrow for those who are settled. It’s a delicate balance for those living the military life, and no one knows which feeling has the correct conviction. To be frank, I think all of us living in military families are lucky; this feeling is strictly internal.
The second-largest aspect of military family life are Deployments. For those who don’t know, a deployment is when they send whoever it is in your family who is part of the armed forces, into a military operation, usually a war-zone. Deployments give you a special feeling – that feeling being one of loss. Calling the feeling “loss” seems a little uncalled for, seeing as nothing is lost in the process of deployment, but the idea of not having them, creates a hole in one’s life that can only be labelled as loss. In 2012, my father was deployed to the Mediterranean sea and then the Persian Gulf, and his stay was extended twice. He left in early January and was slated to come back in June. He eventually returned in September, four months later than expected. Having half of your parental unit missing creates a unique and difficult experience for all those affiliated. My Mom found it extremely difficult to have him gone. She couldn’t stand not having him present, his help, voice, and love there in the moment. Of course, over time, she learned how to cope, how to be more independent, and the same evolution applied to my brother and I. Without his presence and personality, my younger brother and I didn’t know how to act, but this only lasted for a short while. We quickly adapted to his lack of appearance, and we fast learned how to be more independent. Deployment is a tricky subject in that sense, I don’t know whether to consider my evolution during his absence a blessing or a curse. For the pain it causes, deployment is a terrible thing, but I’ve never experienced something horrible as a result.
In conclusion, leading the life of a member of a military family is spontaneous, forever changing, and quite stressful, but I don’t know how else I’d learn coping strategies for all this, and I’m somewhat grateful for the emotional experience it’s given me.