When we pulled into the parking lot, the sun was beginning to go down and the 90 degree heat finally gave way to dusk. I sat in the back with Kyle, arm wrapped tightly around his, hoping the car wouldn’t come to a stop. But moments later, it did, and he gently let go of my hand to get his things from the trunk. He was so calm, but there was a lightness in his voice that couldn’t hide how nervous he really was.
It was time to leave. We prepared for 2 months, knowing this would come. We made lists and took pictures and did things we had never made time to do before. But all those memories couldn’t erase the pit in my stomach. They couldn’t ease the lump in my throat, or the tears I was about to cry. Nothing made this easier.
It was the first of many times that we had to say our “goodbyes”, and the memory is still so vivid. If I think about it, the ache in my heart comes back like it was just yesterday.
There are a lot of things that are difficult about military life. A lot. There’s the distance and the chaos and the fact that we can never plan anything. There’s schedules that we memorize just as they change again, and tan t-shirts that multiply while we try to organize them. There are a million little details that anyone else might miss..
If they didn’t love someone in the military.
I don’t really wonder what our lives would look like if he never took that oath, but I do wonder the type of person I would be. Would I understand love and commitment the same way? Would I take things for granted more often? Would I respect our country and those who serve on the same level that I do currently? Neither of us will ever know where the “path not taken” would have lead us. But I have a good idea..
If I didn’t love someone in the military:
I wouldn’t know sacrifice the way we do now. I wouldn’t know what it feels like to look at our flag and be filled with pride, because I love someone who defends it. I wouldn’t tear up at the sound of taps, or cringe when I find a green sock under the bed.
I wouldn’t be on a never-ending hunt for the right shade of boots, and I wouldn’t have to learn how to wash ACUs. My mind wouldn’t be a constant re-run of countdowns, and checklists..
Related: What It Means To Love A Military Man
I wouldn’t learn patience the way I have, or learn how to say “I understand” rather than let my frustration get the best of me.
I wouldn’t know the value of a day, a week, a month, or a year. I wouldn’t look at time as such a precious and priceless gift.
There are so many things I wouldn’t know, or acknowledge. Chances are, I wouldn’t know myself or Kyle the way I do now. I wouldn’t know how strong we are, or what we can overcome as a team.
There are also things in this life that I wish I could un-know sometimes, if you know what I mean. I wish I didn’t know all the reasons why a POA is so important. I wish my heart wouldn’t skip a beat when Kyle talks about future deployments, or his Will. I wish I didn’t know what it’s like to miss someone so deeply that it hurts.
But I know all of these things. I’ve felt all of these things.
I’m not saying that you have to be a military family to understand love or commitment, because it’s truly different for all of us. But being a military spouse puts marriage and family in a category of its own. I know that I wouldn’t be who I am if I weren’t living this life. If I ever got to meet the version of myself that took the easier path, I’m not sure I’d recognize her at all.