That phrase… Unless it comes from someone I trust and have expressly opened my life up to, I don’t want to hear someone tell me “I can’t believe you’re signing up for it.” Or, “I couldn’t put myself (or my kids) through that.” It’s shock and sometimes judgement from people, that I’d be so horrible as to fall in love with my wonderful man. I always want to turn around and say something along the lines of, “Well it does take someone who’s actually strong enough to do it.” Which I know won’t get anyone, anywhere. What generally comes out is, “Yeah… It’s not for everybody.” Or, “it definitely takes a special woman…”
But, I’m realizing now that the solution is to tell people. Tell people why I am more than okay with the life I’ve decided I’m diving into. And what it is that makes me okay with the fact that I’m going to spend a lot of nights cuddled up in J’s sweatshirt, using the manatee he bought me as a pillow. (Yep… That’s what I’m doing right now. I feel no shame.) Because this absolutely has to look insane from an outside perspective.
The first thing that a MilSO is going to get asked about is the loneliness. “Don’t you miss him?” What am I supposed to say to that? “Nope… I love going to social events by myself, and having dates over FaceTime.” Yes, I absolutely miss him. Whether the time between visits is three weeks, or 12 like the one coming up after Christmas. I miss him all the time. When I wake up in the morning and we send each other texts, when I’m driving to work and he’s gone to class for the day, when we get lunch time texts instead of dates. I would be out right lying if I said that I don’t miss him. But, wow, what that does for our time together! He and I can’t take time with one another for granted – we literally don’t have enough time together to do so. And when we get married? Especially during training, I am going to fall asleep by myself a lot. More than I want to admit to myself. But what that will do for us is make it that much easier to appreciate the times where we get to be together – every absence will make every homecoming feel like a honeymoon. How many couples can say that – that they got to have their honeymoon stage over, and over?
Then there’s the fact that he, presumably, picked this as a job… “Can’t he just come home?” “Why did he volunteer for this if he knew he’d be away from you?” In order to understand this one, people have to know how the Army works. Yes, people can volunteer to leave. Happens all the time. But, they can’t just “come home.” Which means that I have the kind of man in my life who will actively sacrifice his time and follow orders all to benefit the greater good; the safety of his country, and his family. He signed up for a job where he new he’d be taking orders, because he felt that was the right thing to do. That he was called to it. Of course I want a man who can learn what it is to sacrifice, and to follow, in order to better lead his soldiers, and his wife and family.
And, the one that keeps me up at night… J’s job is going to be dangerous. Any person in the military is signing up to be in danger, but J is infantry, and going through training to be a medic. Those two things generally mean danger. My wonderful, fearless man, is among the less than one percent of our country’s citizens who have taken an oath to defend it. And, if necessary, lay down their lives for it, and for the person next to them. I’m not going to try to understand it, or explain it. Because I really have no idea. We’ve all heard the Bible verse;
“Greater love has no one than this; to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)
J, and every person who has put on that uniform, is willing to lay their life down for the person fighting next to them. Simply because that person has sworn to do the same. As someone romantically linked to one of these amazing soldiers, and someone who’s dad, mom, and countless uncles and friends, have all done the same, this is a terrifying fact. One that forces you to come to grips with the reality that sometimes those people are called away, and willingly put themselves in harm’s way. And in those moments that I’m forced to remember that – I am so incredibly proud. That is absolutely the kind of man I want to be married to – to stand next to. The man that will literally lay down his life for the people he loves.
It really is a difficult choice to make, and compared to the 17 years of marriage my parents have made their way through, J and I have barely made it through any huge challenges – no deployments together yet, and he’s been out of harm’s way for the time we’ve been together. We’re going through long distance, and that’s rough, but we can already start to see the end of our time in separate states. We’ve had it relatively easy, for a military couple. But, we both know that those hard times – rough patches, deployments, training, missed holidays/anniversaries/birthdays, are going to happen soon. And I could choose to throw my hands up and say that I don’t want any part of it. That I’m not able to handle it. But in those moments where I start to get frustrated at him, and ask him why ‘they’ couldn’t send someone else, I’m going to be reminded of everything that makes this wonderful man choose to lace up those boots, and miss those birthdays. And it won’t make it easier – but it will remind me that he’s worth it, that we’re worth it, and that the time’s he’s away, he’s away making the world a safer place for me, and the people we love. I am absolutely okay with signing up for that.