My husband and I do not have the typical ‘how we met and fell in love happily ever after’ story. It’s a good one, but that’s for a different blog. The part you need to know now is that when we met in February of 2008, he had full custody of his 16 month old daughter, Cailin. In July, they told him he was going to deploy again right after Christmas.
I had always known I’d have to say goodbye to him – he’s a Marine, we’re at war. Got it. I NEVER thought about saying goodbye to the goofy little girl I had also fallen in love with. It took me a few weeks to bring it up to him, but I asked if when he deployed, I could take her. We went back and forth for a while – I mean, we’d been dating less than a year. Who in their right mind would do that?
Turns out, he would.
So we started getting ready. He got all the POAs set up (I had never even HEARD of a POA before this!), we moved her stuff to my house, and off he went. I thought I was prepared.
Two days later, we were visiting my mom at her physical therapy session. Cailin was running around, having a fabulous time playing on some of the equipment. I was a little nervous, but she was doing fine. Then I asked her to get her jacket because we had to leave.
And she tripped.
FACE FIRST IN TO A MIRROR.
No, I am not kidding. I obviously started freaking out. My boyfriend was not even in country yet and his little girl was bleeding from the face! Thankfully, my sister the NICU nurse was there and calmed me the heck down. She also calmed Cailin down. Turns out, she’d only cut her lip. I was still nervous and she was still bleeding, so we decided to go to the doctor.
That’s when it hit me.
Who was her doctor? Her insurance was called TriCare – who in my area accepted that? Was there a co-pay? Was this an emergency and I could take her to the hospital or did I have to see a regular doctor? I had NO idea. We had done NOTHING military wise to prepare for the fact that we were moving this little girl from Cherry Point to Northern Virginia! The freak out I had when she fell was nothing compared to the breakdown I had at this point.
When my sister asked where to go, I stared at her blankly before I thought to call a girlfriend who was married to a sailor. She ended up talking to my sister and they decided that for now, the best plan was to go to the doctor my sister interned at the summer before and see what they thought.
Everything got taken care of, and Cailin was fine, but I had never felt so unprepared or scared in my life. I thought we had taken care of everything, but clearly we missed some pretty big things. Next time he called me, I told him what had happened and asked him what to do to get her a doctor in my area. His solution was to learn about the Marine Corps and how they work. He suggested taking a LINKS class.
I called the LINKS coordinator at Quantico (I lived about 20 minutes north of the base) and begged to take the class. The woman was very friendly and signed me up for the next session, no questions asked – which was awesome for a girlfriend.
I learned a lot in the class, and make it a point to take LINKS at every base JUST in case. I also made some great friends who I still talk to on a regular basis. Being with someone in the military is a whole different ball game, and I didn’t realize it until I had to jump in. These guys are not bankers who leave their work at work. The more you know about the military, the easier life is when you are involved with a service member.
And in my case, I have way fewer heart attacks.