Like many whose family members serve in the military, Courtney Garab said goodbye to her husband Grant when he was recently deployed. And like other family members left behind, she is faced with fear, worry and loneliness.
But Courtney shares her story with the community so that others might understand that while our servicemen and women sacrifice a great deal, there are those left behind who sacrifice just as much.
“There are days when I do want to cry,” Courtney said. “I want to know what he’s doing. I want to know if he’s safe. I want to know how he’s feeling. But that’s not always possible. It’s hard but you have to stay busy and keep a positive attitude.”
Courtney’s husband, Grant Garab was deployed last week on the 24th Marine Expedition Unit out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Grant is a Model High grad, the son of Jess and Karen Armstrong
The couple have been married for four years. This is his third deployment — the second since they’ve been married and the first since they had a son, Wyatt.
“I’m learning that each deployment makes our marriage stronger,” Courtney said. You can choose to let it come between the marriage and the family or it can make your marriage stronger.”
One of the toughest aspects of Grant’s deployment, like that of many other servicemen and women, is that the details of his deployment are unknown to even close family members. Courtney knows that Grant is deployed on a ship, the USS Iwo Jima, but she doesn’t know exactly where he is or what he’s doing. Her contact with Grant might be limited to a short phone call each week or an email. But all calls are monitored so he can’t share details of missions or training exercises with her.
“I’m hoping to get a phone call on my birthday,” she said. “And that’s what I’m realizing is that it’s the little things that are important now. A phone call or an email saying he’s ok means so much to me. Because communication is so limited, when we as families back home hear about marines being killed or injured we worry and we feel so helpless. All you can do is lean on your support system and rely on prayers.”
Courtney, a Coosa High grad and the daughter of Chris and Diane Cole, also worries about two-year-old Wyatt. She worries that he will forget his dad, and so does everything she can to remind him of Grant. The toughest part of his leaving, she said, was watching Grant say goodbye to Wyatt. And for a few days after the deployment, Wyatt would run around the house looking for his “dada.”
“He’s too young to know why his dad isn’t here,” Courtney said. “I don’t want him thinking that his dad left and won’t come back so every night when I put him to bed I kiss him goodnight and tell him I love him and I tell him that his daddy loves him very much but he’s gone for work and will be home very soon. And I show him pictures and videos constantly.”
Courtney’s used a popular photo website to create photo books for Wyatt and Grant, filled with images of the family together, as a constant reminder to both that though they may be apart, the family is still strong and will be reunited soon.
As far as she’s been told, Grant’s current deployment is supposed to be over in November, but Courtney has learned to take that information with a grain of salt. Nothing is set in stone. So she isn’t counting down to a specific day, she merely counts the days that have passed since Grant was deployed.
And while she says her friends, and particularly their Rome family members have been extremely supportive, she still can’t help but worry.
“Am I going to get a phone call saying he’s hurt?” she wondered. “Is someone going to show up at my door saying he’s been killed? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I hope and pray for the best and I am ecstatic when I get a phone call or an email from him.”
She said although Rome has grown since her days as a high schooler here, she still feels that love and support from family, friends and the community when she needs it.
“I’ve learned that you have to count each and every one of your blessings,” she said. “Be aware that it’s the small things that matter and if you’re blessed enough to have your loved ones around you, don’t take that for granted.”