I learned a long time ago when you love a person in uniform, that, most likely, you’ll never be their first love.
Their first love is not even a person but you have to share him or her with it again and again even though you might not want to.
I see it in my husband's eyes as he packs—he struggles with his feelings—his love for his country and his love for his family. He wants to go and serve his country but he’s conflicted because he doesn’t want to miss any more time with us. Especially his little girl, who will randomly take his hand and go, “Hold my hand up so I can spin like a ballerina, Daddy!” She’s growing up too fast. Will she still want to play ballerina with him when he returns?
It’s his job to go. He might not be on the front lines but his part is still important, his part helps allow us our freedom. I remind myself of this when I get angry, when I wonder why, why, why must he be taken away again.
I don’t want his last memory of me to be a sad one so I fight back my tears as I hug him goodbye. I am not an attractive crier and I don’t want his last image to be of me covered in snot and saliva. I force a smile on my face and whisper in his ear, “We’ll be okay,” as he hugs me close. I breathe in his woodsy scent and try to remember it.
He’s gone five minutes later and I’m left standing there with his children who I am in charge of fully while he’s away. I will not be able to ask him for help when they become unruly. I will not be able to lift his daughter up on my shoulders as he did and she’ll fuss over this and tell me that she wishes that he were here instead of me. I understand her anger and will never hold it against her.
He’ll be in our thoughts daily. He’ll know that he is loved.
He’ll know that I understand why he has to go.