In no other life - no other life! - would it be normal to move into a new house, unpack, settle in, start over without your partner. In no other life would it be normal to do all of that - the packing, the moving, the settling-in without your spouse - twice in less than three years.
In no other life would it be normal to do that without harboring resentment towards that very partner who boarded a plane and flew to the other side of the country - or the world - and left knowing what you would undertake.
Or maybe to me it's normal. So many times people ask me what C "owes me". What I am demanding in return. If he knows how hard this PCS and time-apart has been.
I understand the reason for the questions. I do. And I have told C that when he gets here I need a day - just a day - where I can go off and breathe. I have never even asked before but this time, this time, I need a day to sit alone and do nothing, or to shop with a friend, or to get a pedicure, or to take a shower for longer than four minutes.
Really, I would just take the shower.
This move has been the most difficult we have ever had. This last quarter has been the most emotional that I can remember. But never, not once, have I harbored any anger or resentment at C for it. I don't think I have that right. I knew in this - and, no, not when I "signed up for it" but some time into it - I knew there would be a defining point where you had to choose how you would view this walk - how you viewed the "me," and the "you," and the "we".
I know how helpless C has felt knowing every single thing that has gone wrong. I know how much it hurt him to get that phone call telling him of Eli's diagnosis. I know how much he wants nothing more than to comfort and fix and make right. I know, I know, that it hurt every part of him that is a father and a husband and a protector and a man when I couldn't hold back my tears on that phone and he couldn't do anything but listen.
I know that this is hard on him. I know he wants to be going through it with me - if we have to go through it at all.
We are never living this life, living a marriage, alone. We are building and pushing through together - whether in different parts of the country or different parts of the world. We hurt when the other hurts. We struggle to balance those emotions, to place them, accept them when we cannot physically be together.
In all of this, there have been a handful of times when all I wanted - all I wanted was for C to hold me. Just to hug me. I just wanted to be held by my husband. You have no idea how much you can miss physical touch until it is gone. It's why we cling onto them when they come home. Why they cling to us.
The fact that he can't isn't his fault. The fact that he can't isn't even the Army's fault. It is simply what this life is. Simply the hand we are dealt at times.
Sometimes they will be here. Most often times they won't.
We have to honor the marriage that we work for. We have to honor the vows we speak. There is no room to resent - no healthy way to harbor it.
That is what Promises was all about. Understanding what the other feels. Understanding that every part of this life is hard, every challenge becomes a hundred times greater when we go through it without the other physically with us - without having the ability to hold onto one another.
You have to learn to love so wholly that you can feel each other's pain. You have to learn to know that the very knowledge of your hurt becomes their hurt. The very thought of their separation putting a greater burden on you - on us - binds their hurt to their guilt.
There is no debt to be paid. No gift to be owed.
We do not hurt alone.