I could write a book just about the last twelve months of our life. C has been home and this may have been the hardest twelve months of our life together. He's been out of combat. He's been safe. And our world has been - again and again - turned upside-down.
The emotions of a deployment - the emotions of a combat deployment - are like nothing else in this world. I cannot tell you how many times I would just quietly say the line "I cannot promise ..." to myself when C's boots weren't in our foyer. To remind myself. To encourage myself. To push through. To remember why we do this, how much he loves me.
In the last twelve months I have felt absolute panic and dread and fear and confusion and near hopelessness. I have watched my friends make life-altering decisions. I have seen careers end before their time. I have listened carefully while C relayed his conversation with branch that changed the game the moment certain words were spoken - all while he traveled in his vehicle back out to the field.
In March it became clear to us that - just like for many in C's "year group"- that it would be difficult for him to continue in combat arms.
In the months following it became clearer that a change was needed. It has nothing to do with not wanting to be "in the fight." Nothing to do with that. The thought of that being the case is the one thing that almost had him hanging on. To not be "on the line" ... it isn't something I can imagine him processing.
To go into all the reasons would leave me typing for hours ... for days, really. And some of them I don't think I could ever put into words. I never thought we would be here.
To explain the emotions that we battled with and talked through and struggled to name ... well, those are still ongoing and being processed and worked through.
The next time I see C in his blues it will be without his cord.
And I didn't start crying until just now.
Just now. That thought.
We thought we would be an Infantry family until the day he retired. As an army wife, I "grew up" loving the blue, loving Fort Benning because it was Fort Benning, the "Home of the Infantry," where C earned his wings. The history of C's first unit, meeting the families of the "Band of Brothers," living the life of the band of sisters battling through deployment together. Every fiber let me know I was made for this.
There is pride and a reverence. Great courage and great fear. Immense longing and intense love. Overwhelming sadness and bone-deep joy.
You just can't know unless you have lived it.
To love a combat soldier has been an honor, a joy, a grace-filled journey. To continue to love a soldier will be the honor of my life.
Our journey is changing. The road ahead is unknown.
But I know that there will be joy. I know that there is purpose. I know that our love is great, our need for Grace is endless, our Guide is like no other.
Two months ago I held my partner's hand, squeezed it and said, "You have given more than most. You have sacrificed more than most. You can lay down your gun."
For the one who will step-up behind and pick it up, Thank You. For the many who have fought beside my C, Thank You. For the dear friends who have guided us through, Thank You.
For the thousands who courageously said "send me," whose families mourn, we will remember.
The timing revolving around this change is still uncertain. What is to come, we still just do not know. We may still have another deployment ahead of us. We just aren't sure. We are still an Army family and hope to be one for many, many years to come.
THANK YOU for supporting us and encouraging us! I hope I can continue to repay the blessings you have all been.