For the past nine months, my wonderful wonderful boyfriend, Kekoa, and I have muscled through a nine month deployment. If anyone understands the hardship of a long distance relationship… you might maybe know only a third of how this experience was for the both of us. Deployment is a difficult situation to be in. It is as simple as that. We knew what this all would entail and the risks that came with it. Not only the situation was difficult, but the emotions and days that happened with it were as well. It was for the him, who was isolated on an aircraft carrier for nine months, and it was for me, who had to work with not being able to talk to the person I love every day and who constantly was in worry mode for his safety. Deployment is something, though, that is very close to my heart. There were struggles at times, but there were also days and phone calls and FaceTime conversations that I will never ever forget. This is our story of this deployment:
The journey began on a chilly March morning for the both of us. I was mid-semester in my last semester of senior year and was packed to the brim with tests, assignments, and papers. The stress of school really began to overwhelm me at that point and I wondered what it will be like to now rant about school with someone other than Kekoa. He took away all my worries about school when I was with him and I truly, truly needed his company to get through it calmly to graduation. Despite the academic stress at the moment, I had gotten a FaceTime call from my love at around 7 am. I would normally wake up for class at around 8:00-8:15, so I was definitely not prepared for this call (hence the lack of make up and glasses face). I picked it up, and THIS is the face I got to wake up to. We had sadness in our hearts, but this man of course woke up with a smiling face and an excited attitude totally disregarding the loneliness and isolation he would be experiencing in the near future. On that day, we began our countdown till the end of deployment and said our small “see you soon’s” and “i love you’s” as normal. It didn’t feel real at all and it wouldn’t hit me till later that he would be gone until November. The phone call ended while his ship pulled farther and farther away from cell phone reception, and let’s just say many tears were shed. I ran to my best friend Lydia’s dorm room, which was directly next to mine, and hugged her while bawling my eyes out. “It wasn’t the end of the world. He’s coming back. You’ll be okay,” I told myself. And then I said aloud to her, “No matter how hard the situation is, I have to be strong for him.” I went about my day wondering how he was doing, hoping his work wouldn’t be too strenuous. And the countdown began.
Missing Nine Whole Months of Memories and Accomplishments
With deployment, came amazing thing that truly greatened our love for each other, but it also came with some not so amazing things. One of those “not so amazing” things being missed time. There were a lot of missed memories and days that we would’ve done ANYTHING to be there for each other physically. Whether that be important events like my graduation or my senior prom, traveling to new places like his adventures in England or Dubai, or even just those bad days where all we both need are those long hugs and kisses on the forehead. We pulled through. We didn’t have time to have those petty fights that couples our age normally have and we didn’t want to either. We focused on the time had together, even if it was just a 10 minute phone call. Even though we couldn’t be there for each other physically, we definitely were there mentally. Encouraging words were ALWAYS ALWAYS given and received and we promised that we’d be there next time! Next graduation, next bad day, next birthday, etc.
Mid-Deployment Gifts: Care Packages & Home Packages
A positive aspect of our deployment finally haha! A thing that Kekoa and I would both do during the nine months away was send each other packages. From me to him, I would send care packages. If this deployment taught me one thing it was how to properly get through the post office and all their rules and tricks! This is what I would normally put in a care package:
- Handwritten Notes – those always work for the both of us. I would realized that “oh yeah, Kekoa had this in his hand a few weeks ago.” Sadly, that was the ONLY form of “physical” contact I had with him.
- Snacks on Snacks on Snacks – his favorites are Macadamia Nut Clif Bars, A Whole LOT of Beef Jerky Sticks, Li Hing Mui Watermelon/Sour Patch Kids, Rice Krispies, and Cookies and Cream Hershey Bars (so, i’d obviously include all.)
- Pictures – pictures from important events, picture of us to put up in his rack, graduation announcements and invitations even!
- Something Extra – in the care package I sent above, I added a tank top that I thought would be cute on him. Sadly, he couldn’t work out in it like I planned he would have but he wore it to bed when the ship was hot at night. Perfect. Another extra I put in another one of his packages were these polaroid pictures from the Polaroid Store in Las Vegas.
- A Whole Lot of Love and Detail – In the above care package, I included sticky notes with words of encouragement to act as confetti in a way. I put in some of my favorite quotes and bible verses to help him get through as well and maybe just put a little smile on his face.
From him to me, I got TONS of souvenirs. Kekoa thought it would be really nice to get me a little something from each place he went to. My all time favorite is the sand jar in the top right picture of this collage. It is filled with Dubai sand and has both of our names written in Arabic inside of it. How cute and unique! Oh, and so many ship shirts. I have about three now that rep his ship name and I’m super grateful for all of it. Another gift that I still remember perfectly is a dozen of my favorite colored roses for my birthday. It was the weekend of my birthday and I had NO IDEA they were coming. On the note, Kekoa explained that he ordered them an entire month before my birthday. How crazy is that! Just little things like that even now makes my heart warm and smiley.
Many, many, MANY FaceTime Dates (even if its at three in the morning)
THIS IS CRUCIAL, I repeat, THIS IS CRUCIAL FOR MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS. FaceTime the next best thing to seeing each other in person throughout deployment. I would get FaceTime calls at weird hours like 4 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon (due to our never ending difference of time zones) and would be overjoyed with excitement. It was hard in his underways to hear his voice all the time and speak on the phone, so the FaceTimes in port got us through! It would take a while for the both of us to find ample Wi-Fi for a strong connection. Just thinking about all the times where we would get frustrated at the lagging or the drops in connection makes me laugh now! We were ridiculous. FaceTime was the time we could be silly and see each other. It would always result in a couple screenshots like these. We would have serious conversations at times, heart filled conversations, silly random conversations. What ever came to mind! Before his deployment, when he was in A-school, we would FaceTime almost every day and talk about our days so it brought us back a little to the old building block days of our relationship.
Emails, emails, and more emails
194 emails in fact! Which is not to mention the millions of Facebook messages we shared whenever Kekoa would have internet on the ship. In the beginning of deployment especially, Kekoa would be working 16 hours straight. He would sacrifice maybe an hour or two of his sleep to stand in line for a computer just to send me an email to update me on his day or ask me any questions. We would little things like ask each other scenario questions or talk about a special person person to us, just to spice up the emails a bit. For a while we’d send each other a bible verse that we saw or read that week. With that we would enclose our interpretations, views, and different times we could use them. Still keeping the faith alive! It amazed me though how long we would wait for a computer to talk to me. That sacrifice would be an every day thing and his undying effort made this situation worth it for the both of us. Even when all odds were against him to contact me, he still would try his very hardest. Truly thankful for that special piece of deployment! Every email on both ends would end with “I miss you so much! I love you, always. Never forget that! Have a great day tomorrow. Watch out for an email! See you soon, take care :*” or something along those lines. Actually, a lot of “i love you’s” even for one email! The consistency created a routine that made the loneliness a little more bearable for the both of us.
The Biggest Reward: Homecoming Day and More
Words cannot even express the happiness I felt the week I was in San Diego for his homecoming. We were scared that maybe when he came home, it wouldn’t click the same because we were away for so long. Boy were we both wrong! As always, like the past 13 or so years of our friendship, we would catch up like normal. It was amazing to finally give him the big hug and hold his hand like I had been waiting for what it felt like forever. The look he gave me when he saw me for the first time made my heart entirely warm. It was the same smiling face he left me with before his deployment. Nothing at all different! Just now with nine more months under our belt. The entire week, too, we had googly eyes. In love more than ever. All we both could say was “WE DID IT.” By the way, sorry to all the panicked family members and friends that thought we got married out of the blue when I posted the Instagram picture with the caption “we did it.” Haha not yet! Calm down!
Love defies all odds. When you love some one so much, little temporary “problems” like distance or time isn’t a problem, it is just an obstacle to power through. The biggest reward that I received from Kekoa for standing with him through this deployment is clarity. Clarity that he will be there for me at my worst, clarity that he truly truly does love me, clarity that he will sacrifice anything it feels like to be with me. I have clarity too. Clarity that I want to be there for him, that we can do anything if we put our minds to it, that the love will last as long as we are both putting in effort.
Most couples (married and unmarried) come out of deployment broken, unfaithful, and even weak. Kekoa and I, even at just the start of our adulthood and relationship, proved the stigma wrong. This deployment taught us patience and allows us to truly appreciate now the time we have with each other. No taking each other for granted! We have never been closer and the time without each other physically gave us more time to talk and think about every aspect of our relationship.
Where We Are Now
Now, Kekoa and I are back to where we were AND now with an experience that will never be forgotten. We have spent so much quality time together in the past two months than we’ve ever had consecutively. On one of our nights together during his homecoming week, we shared 10 goals that we now will strive for with our new long distance situation. We are excited for what the future holds are planning many trips for us to spend even more time with each other. We are sillier! We are comfortable being ourselves and fully ourselves! In about two weeks, we will be having our first one year anniversary together. He will be home for that special day for us and for the holidays, which is the biggest present I could be given this winter honestly! Our love grows with each day, each minute, each second that passes it feels like. I am thankful for how this deployment affected us.
My love, thank you so much for not giving up on this, on us. Thank you for being so appreciative of me and the love I give, and for reacting with the same if not greater amount of love to me. You treat me with so much respect and kindness, thank you. You shower me with positivity and with encouragement. Now that this deployment is done, we can start building our relationship in the ways that we couldn’t before. I can’t wait! We are stronger than ever now. We have years and years and years to learn more about each other and to make memories! Even though it feels like we’ve gone through a lot already, this is just the beginning. I love you! Everything about you. Don’t forget that! Thank you for this deployment. It was one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of my life.
I am so incredibly proud of you and all that you do. You are truly one of the greatest people i’ve ever met. I love spending time with you. Can’t wait till it’s every single day all day. Next up, DISNEYLAND! AHH ANXIETY!
With love, Jordyn
✽ Song Recommendation: Take Me Home // Us The Duo