I don't think there is a military spouse among us that hasn't heard the words, "Oh, I could never do that!"
I don't think there is a military spouse among us who has never at the very least thought, "This, this is too much."
For a generation that far too often ignores limits, who so, so often believes and strives to do the impossible, I find it is those who are of my generation who are the first to shake their heads and say they could never do what I do.
They they could never do what we do when we commit and marry a man or woman who serves.
I was one of the many who shake their heads and say, "No, I could never."
I was raised in a family where marriage is finite. Where that commitment is a commitment. A sacrament. Holy. From above. Sacred. To be protected and nurtured and worked through. That that love must be and will be enough.
There was a time when I honestly thought something must be wrong with women who went a year at a time (or more) without seeing their spouse. I thought their marriages must be weak. That their love must not be truest. I didn't understand how a man could love a family that he would so "readily" leave. I didn't think that a military marriage could hold the values of marriage I was raised on. I didn't think that the two could exist in one.
Lord, how you humbled me.
I know that there are people who look in from the outside and think what I thought. I know the friends and strangers who say the words, "I could never do that," are not necessarily saying them for the reasons I would in the past. I know that we don't ever get to feel the full extent of what someone else feels, to know what they know, to live how they live.
But for every woman that has looked at me and said, "I could never," I will tell you that you can.
For every new spouse that has said that farewell for the first time, I will tell you, you will make it through.
For every mother struggling to raise that new baby without her partner, or juggle and balance and keep the other parent present, I will tell you, you are able.
You can love across borders. You can love across war zones. You can love through IED's, and mortars, and patrols, and trainings, and road-side bombs, and nights alone, and black-outs, and fears and dread and tear-soaked pillows.
You can love enough to hold the hand of your partner as he writes out his will. You can sit beside him as his abled-body directs his funeral. You can love enough to hold the hand of a friend while you push through labor with out your husband. You can love enough to clap with all your might and simply let the tears roll while watching your first baby take his first steps without daddy there to cheer. You can hold your child back when his hero walks away. You can hold that little body as he kicks and screams and holds out his hands wanting nothing more in the world than for that man walking away to run back to him.
You can hold your little one to your chest when he wakes from a nightmare and all he asks is "why?" You can hold him, and rub his hair, and squeeze him to your heart without uttering a word. You can freeze and say a prayer when that notification vehicle rolls down your street. You can hold your breath and then fall to the ground with that relief. You can struggle with the guilt and the gratitude and the confusion and the sorrow.
You can hold enough love to blanket your children with the love of two. You can cry enough tears to wash your pain away. You can scream and punch pillows and get back up and continue on. You can wait. You can live fully.
You can live through this day and the next and the next.
You can love enough to let him walk away. You can love him enough to hold your tears. You can love him enough to not allow resentment. You can love enough to love this nation as he does. You can love enough to understand that there are somethings you never will.
You can love enough to love completely. You can give enough to make you whole. You are able to live this life. You are given grace when you live with faith. You are given the promise that you can endure all that threatens.
You are placed where you are placed because you are able to thrive - you are able to do the most good. You are able to grow. You are able to love.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails."