In January of 2016, Chris Daugherty, a sailor with the U.S. Navy, set sail for the seven seas. This wasn’t his first time leaving the country, nor was it his first time spending a long time away from his loved ones. He expected to be out at sea for around five months when he left home.
But, once he got aboard, this sailor would soon find out that this deployment would last much longer than he had originally planned. But that wasn’t the only twist that fate had in store for him. Chris had no idea that he would come home to something that would completely change his life.
Though it has its rewards, the life of a military spouse also poses its challenges. Chris Daugherty and his wife, Natasha, had long confronted the hurdles of his occupation. The young couple from Temecula, California were parents to three little kids, and leaving them was always hard for this military man.
The whole family cried through their smiles as they waved goodbye to Petty Officer Chris Daugherty as the USS Vinson set sail for waters near the Korean Peninsula. Their dad was charged with the work of a Navy cryptologic technician. As he spent his time cracking codes and deciphering signals, he was entirely oblivious about the great happenings that were going on back in the States.
Just like many military wives and spouses of enlisted men and women, Natasha felt very sad and lonely in the absence of her beloved husband. About one week after Chris left home, Natasha began to take small steps to change her life.
These were tiny, baby steps at first, but, as weeks turned into months, she had a harder and harder time hiding the truth. Time passed, and Natasha was particularly adamant about making sure that one person didn’t discover the full truth.
Between his three kids and her Navy husband, Natasha Daugherty had plenty to keep her busy. Though her first-born was old enough to know that he shouldn’t talk about the differences in his mom, it was a hard task keeping the other noisy kids quiet.
This busy mom had the hardest time concealing her secret from her four-year-old. Since the family often got chances to regularly talk to Dad, Natasha was always worried that the little girl would accidentally let something slip that would make him suspicious.
Even though she had almost no time to spare for herself, Natasha Daugherty was wrought with distress, trying to figure out whether to tell or not to tell her husband a little secret that she knew would have a GIGANTIC effect on both of their lives. Nothing would ever be the same.
Chris was in the middle of the ocean, many miles from home, and she knew something. She understood that, if he knew about what was going on at home, he would get nervous and distracted. This conundrum was even more amplified by the fact that the family regularly communicated. They made video calls, talked on the phone, and sent each other photos. Natasha was always concerned that Chris would realize that she was keeping something from him.
This happy couple first met when they both worked in the Navy. Natasha was employed as an IT systems technician, and Chris fell in love at first sight. He was amazed that he had found such a pretty and smart lady with whom he shared so many interests.
They got married in 2011, and, after sharing so many years of their lives together, keeping such an important fact away from Chris was really hard for Natasha. During one moment in his long deployment, she came too close for comfort to telling her Navy husband the truth, but she eventually decided to keep it to herself.
“I emailed him, and I told him to call me as soon as he gets a chance, but then I thought about it for a few minutes and I was like, ‘You know, this isn’t how I want to tell him – in an email,’” explained Natasha.
In addition to keeping it hushed from her faraway husband, Natasha didn’t want to let their friends or family in on the secret either. Still, it didn’t take long for perceptive people close to her to figure out what was up.