Somewhere in a field in California, my husband is crawling through woods, wading through creeks, perhaps marching a great distance.

Here in Texas, there is a tiny girl who misses him and doesn’t understand where he’s gone and her mother aches some moments.

I am frequently told to extend thanks to my husband for his service. These same people tell me I am also to be thanked, because I am making great sacrifices, as well. Before, it was easy. Now, it’s starting to get hard. Really hard.

The deployment chapter has begun. Though he hasn’t technically left for the Sand Box, he’s doing the preliminary training. Last Sunday, he left for a month and on Friday, we began the two weeks of zero communication. I am going to be honest, unashamedly so: It hurts. At moments, I have such an extreme ache because I sense his absence so intimately. Then, I realize a month is nothing when I think about the length of the deployment. Right now, I can’t hear him, see him, touch him. If this is hard for me, the absence is that much harder for my eleven month old daughter.

Elizabeth is cognizant enough to understand Daddy has disappeared; unfortunately, she’s too young to explain the situation. She crawls the house in a frenzy, calling out “Da Da! Da Da???” She’s made every object, from pacifiers and TV remotes to books and shoes, into a phone that she puts to her ear and talks to Dada. She gets sad, angry, frustrated. While playing with her toys, she’ll use one hand for play, while the other hand grips my t-shirt in a desperate attempt to keep me from disappearing, too. My heart aches for her. A normally easy-going baby, Elizabeth is clearly not handling this well.

And my thoughts frequently turn to my husband, the hero who is training for a larger mission. Who is likely forgoing sleep, food, and rest in preparation to serve his country, fulfill his mission, and protect his family. Somewhere out in California is a man who is likely missing his wife and longing for his daughter.

Yes, I understand the thanks, now. This is not easy. My husband is making sacrifices, but his family is, as well. So, I will take the thanks when offered. But, what means more right now are the prayers. Because we need them. My heroic husband needs them. His tired, frustrated wife needs them. But, more than either of us, his little girl needs them. Because while Mommy and Daddy can understand this, she doesn’t. The center of her universe has disappeared. And she wants him back, and is terrified her mommy will disappear as well.

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