When you love someone in the military, you accept that your life is no longer your life. You understand that the military does not care about you or your plans, that they will send him where they need him and you will just be expected to follow. You accept that, for however long he’s in the military, you will be the follower. You may have to uproot yourself to go. You accept this for yourself, you accept it for any children the two of you may have. You accept that one day, you may have to be separated, that he may have to go where you cannot follow him. You agree to wait, however long it takes, for him to come home.
And when he’s gone, you silently agree not to watch the news. Every report that doesn’t name the injured is in the back of your mind until you hear from him again. You try to keep your heart from sinking each time a new list of names of men and women who will never come home is read. You cry over people you don’t even know, because you can’t imagine what that is like. Before he ever leaves, he tells you exactly what to do, who to contact if he doesn’t come home. And even when you insist you know he’ll come back, he makes sure you know what to do if he doesn’t. You agree to long distance phone calls, to Skype dates that will inevitably be cancelled or pushed back. You miss him at events, you miss the sound of his voice and the touch of his hands. You pray, day and night, every second of every minute that he will come home again. You promise God the entire world, if He’d just bring your love home to you. You send packages, letters, anything to let him know you’re still here, you’re still waiting.
When he finally comes home, you accept the nightmares, the outbursts. You accept that he may never be exactly the same person that he was before. You drop to the ground when he tells you to, even though you know it’s only fireworks. You agree to be the glue that holds him together, because you’ve read the stories, and you know what can happen to people who don’t have that. You hold his hand through the doctor’s appointments, through the therapy sessions, and you agree to stand for him until he is strong enough to stand on his own again. You accept that there are some things that he may never forget, things that you can’t even begin to imagine or understand.
When you love someone in the military, every day is a test, and if you fail, you lose everything. When you love someone in the military, you know that every day is a gift, that any time that you have together is something precious. You learn to appreciate him in an entirely different way. You become stronger than you ever thought that you would be. When you love someone in the military, you find the highest highs and the lowest lows, and you know, deep down, that you wouldn’t want anyone else, no matter the circumstances. .