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525,600 Minutes: A Season of Deployment

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?”

—From “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, written by Johnathan Larson

I’m a hot mess right now, and I’m not sure I can adequately describe it to those of you reading this.

How do we measure a year? A good question, and one that’s front-and-center on my brain tonight.

It’s Deployment Eve…

…one of the hardest nights for military families.

I can’t sleep.

The house is littered with duffle bags, packing lists, and emotional land mines as we face the 525,600 minutes that lie ahead.

It’s assuredly not our first year apart, and as much as I’d like to say I’ve lost count, it’d be a lie.

Military families are exceptionally good at math. After all, we measure our lives by moves, houses, duty stations, and deployments.

As the night starts to creep from Deployment Eve to Deployment Morning, I find myself wondering how I’ll make this a good year for all of us. So many factors are out of my control, so how will I manage the long days and even longer nights?

How will I measure this year? 

As I sit in the dark, I can’t help but reflect on how I measured (unsuccessfully) some of the deployments of the past.

There was the year I was going to lose 30 pounds and become the best physical version of myself. I fell short of that goal when I discovered German beer and fried pork were much more comforting than the gym.

Then there was the year I decided to run three half-marathons. I measured that deployment in shin splints and lower back pain.

Other deployments were measured by college degrees, traveling, and jobs before we added children and needed a totally different measuring stick!

And of course, there’s the old standby of, “This is the year I will write that novel.”

It’s a work in progress.

But this one feels different. Maybe it’s weariness or maybe it’s because I’m a little older, hopefully a little wiser, but I don’t want to measure this year in any type of numbers, events, or predetermined successes.

This is just a season. One season in a long, blessed life thus far.

This time I want to measure the year not by what I can accomplish in his absence, but by my desire to make the most of each day (hoping the good days outnumber the bad).

There are 1,440 minutes in a day. I will not be amazing for all of them, and that’s okay!

But from sunrise to sunset, I’ll do my best, knowing that we’re all here for an undisclosed amount of time. I’ve known too many who sent pff loved ones not knowing there would be no more minutes.

That thought scares the hell out of me, and as I sit here and type these words, I want to wake him up and tell him that.

But I won’t.

Because in 480 minutes, I’ll have to drive him onto Fort Hood and watch him check in.

In 540 minutes, I’ll sit with the other families as we wait for the buses to line up and for all the endless logistical details to end.

In 600 minutes, it’ll be time to say goodbye. It’ll be time to start our year.

How will we measure it?

The song has inspired me. I plan to make it a season of love. I want to measure each day by what’s in front of me.

My family, my students, my friends…

…my relationships.

I want to see the sunsets, drink the coffee, laugh the laughs, and at the end of the day…

…I want to go to bed exhausted and happy.

I want to measure my year not in days, pounds, miles, or all those marks on the wall that distract the mind but not the soul.

I want to measure in love.

Now that I’ve figured it out, maybe I can finally sleep.

Much love to all my military peeps in a deployment season.


  • Kathleen Palmer

    Kathleen is an educator and project seeker from Texas. In her 28 years as an Army wife, Kathleen has taught and coached in six different states and Germany. Kathleen has a big heart for both Army families and soldiers having served as a Soldier for Life counselor in both Germany and Korea. Her favorite part of Army life is her acquired community of battle buddies! Kathleen loves words (both speaking and writing them) and has contributed to AWN, NMFA, The Fort Hood Sentinel, The Army Spouse Handbook, Inside Abu Ghraib, Memoirs of Two US Military Intelligence Officers, and The Army War College at Carlisle. Her favorite writing piece about being an Army wife is “The Lady in the Grey Suit” which was published in 2015 in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors (Vol.3). You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, or on her website, Life Is Messy, Love Big. Just like Kathleen, the site is a WORK in Progress! She also currently serves as Mission: Milspouse Director of Content.

1 Comment

  1. Gail Fowler

    Kathy, I know that you count and pray and go forth with courage. I have added you and Palmer to my prayer list. God who measures all our steps will provide for all of your needs. This I know for sure.

    Eric’s Mom


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The Days Are Long as a Milspouse

The Days Are Long as a Milspouse

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