And shortly before I turned 19, I agreed to marry him. Cause that's just how in love I was.
A couple months after I turned 20, I was a married woman.
7 months later I was expecting.
And 2 months after that, I was on my own.
When I said goodbye I didn`t consider the costs.
I didn`t consider anything, really.
He had already been gone so often, but this time....
When I watched that bus pull away my heart fell and my stomach turned and I looked around the rest of that gym while the ones left behind cleaned up after the big send off.
They barely noticed the girl at the window and they certainly never appreciated the effort I was putting in not to fall on the ground sobbing.
6 months later so much had changed.
Without email, facebook, videochats or really, even decent phone service, deployment looked a lot different then than it can look for some people now.
When he walked off that bus I was so pregnant I couldn`t even stand up straight. The boxes were packed in our tiny PMQ for the home we were moving into in just 6 weeks.
And the baby! He was coming anytime.
But that one night, when the bags were picked up and the phone calls to relatives made and the house was still, we sat in our room and I stared at him for a very long time.
By the time Dh came home from war that first time, he was still weeks away from his 21st birthday.
When I look at 20 year olds now they seem so young.
When I look at my 10 year old son my heart aches for my mother in law.
She sent her baby to war and he was barely an adult.
That first night, by the light of our bedside lamp well into the early hours of the morning, I didn`t talk because I had too many questions I didn`t think I wanted to know the answers to.
Six months with so little communication.... in a way he felt like a stranger.
I remember how hard I tried not to cry as I traced the lines of cuts on his shoulder that had already scarred and started to heal, probably months ago.
I didn`t even ask where they came from, I was just so overwhelmed that I hadn`t been there to see them before they started to fade.
And when he smiled, I brushed my hand on the face that used to just be white and freckles but now seemed to be worn and sandblown.
When I ran my thumb across the creases on the side of his face, there was a little piece of sand, still stuck.
I think that`s when I realized that time he was gone was never going to leave, no matter how long he was home.
Even after days of `decompression`in Guam, countless well earned hot showers and the time it took to get home, the sand was still there.
At first my head said `No more. Not again. You`re home now for good.``.
And then I took a deep breath and a long look at my husband who had done so much growing up without me, and I realized the real truth.
He would do this again.
And I didn`t know, really, I mean, I had no way to know that he`d return to the same place so many times.
But I did know, deep down, that he would go somewhere again.
Because it`s who he is.
I love him.
Which means I learned something about who I am in that moment, too.
I am the one who will say goodbye over and over, sometimes for 2 weeks and sometimes for months and month.
Sometimes a domestic deployment or disaster relief.
Sometimes I swear the army just planned something because we hadn`t heard from them in a while.
But that`s okay.
Because I am the one who for the past 12 years and for the rest of our lives, will wait, sometimes patiently and sometimes not, for that moment when he needs me to brush that sand off his face so he can be home.
The lines on our faces, the lessons we`ve learned and the place we live are a long way different from those kids who said their first goodbye.
But I`ve learned there was one thing that all those promises we`ve made have boiled down to:
Wherever he is, I`m his home.
Forever and Always my love.
Happy (late) 12th Anniversary Dh.