"As much as you want it to be, your house is not going to be put together in one day. Your office isn't going to be organized in one day. All the sheets and towels aren't going to be washed in one day. You will get it done. Make your list. Start checking things off."
This is C and I's fourth duty station in less than six years.
It is strange to think that we should be in one place for three years. That for three years, his boots will be on American soil. For three years he won't be gone in the middle of the night, he won't be getting home after seven in the evening (or much later) every single night. It is strange to think that we can plan a date for the weekend and not have to worry about an interrupting phone call or text or email.
For three years, my husband should sleep beside me every night.
I don't know how to explain the emotions that play into that. I don't know how to put any of it into words.
C told me tonight he doesn't know how to do anything but what he has always done. He doesn't know how to not go, how to not be on twenty-four-seven, three-sixty-five. He doesn't know how to be anything but the type of soldier he has always been.
I am grateful. Please don't misunderstand or confuse or think for a moment I am not deeply, completely, knee-bendingly grateful that my husband will be home, that he will be able to go to baseball games with his boys, and take them to school, and eat dinner - the four of us, around the same table, at the same time - we've never been able to bank on any of those things.
It is so much to process.
I know that to those outside of this life - and maybe even to some in it - none of that makes any sense. The statement above may seem that I don't want this. My God, my God, I want all of those things. I am overwhelmed with the idea that C gets three years to be active and involved in his children's lives, to get to be physically present in our marriage. I am so grateful.
I dated C through a deployment. I have watched him hold fast while the mother of his fallen friend gripped his arm in absolute agony and sorrow while he escorted her to her son's memorial. I have stood steps away while he knocked on the door of a comrade's wife, letting her know of his injuries. He has seen horrors and lived through unmentionable circumstances. I have watched his children sprint to him. I have held our toddler while he screamed and cried himself to sleep because he missed his daddy for too long. I have gripped his neck, clung to his uniform, because he made it home.
He made it home to me.
We have built a marriage in what most people would not be able to survive. Our kiddos have known a father who despite his physical absence has left them always with a love that they remember and cherish and have grown in. We have given our everything for a life we deeply, heartfully believe in. That we honor and respect and have been humbled to share in.
We have given all we are to build and sustain a strong marriage in spite of every struggle that exists in this life. Our kids know they are loved. We did it in spite of separation and fear and heartbreak and hardship.
It is all we have known. This is all we have known.
It is strange to know that friends of mine are undergoing that most difficult "see you soon" this week, or did last week, or will the next. I just can't not feel the guilt in the gratitude.
This house will not be put together in one day. Boxes will sit unopened. Towels will wait to be organized by color. For a time I will try to ignore that they are mixed and scattered and unorganized. My closet can be put on hold for a time.
I will not learn how to not be a combat soldier's spouse in one day. C may never learn how to "not be" an Infantryman. He will not learn how to not do what he has always done, in just one day. Little by little this house will become our home. Little by little we will learn this new path. Little by little we will take it all in, we'll process the changes. We'll take the steps together.
Little by little.
How incredible the journey awaiting us. How grateful for the gift of time.