“Behind every strong soldier, there is an even stronger woman who stands by him, supports him, and loves him with all her heart” ~Unknown
If there’s one thing that I am the most proud of about Shane, it is that he is serving his country. I’ve been subjected to the “military” life before but all of this is fairly new to me.
In high school, I had a few friends who joined the guards and I went through their Basic Training, AIT, and even a deployment as a support system. I was as supportive as I could be from so far away and would listen when they had issues that they just needed to get off their chest. Obviously, being so far removed from their immediate life (not being a family member or a spouse), I never realized how taxing the service is on families – I mean I knew but I didn’t KNOW.
I got my first taste of it back in June when Shane went on a 2 1/2-3 week training camp up at Camp Ripley. Our relationship had just taken a leap from “casually dating” to serious. Worst. Timing. Ever. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that the man I was falling so hard and so fast for was going to be physically removed from my life with little, or on some days, no communication. I came up with the idea to start a notebook that he could take with him. I wrote a message in it for him that said this:
“I choose you for life. I promise you all of my deepest love, my fullest devotion and my tenderest care; through the pressure of the present and the unknowns of the future. I promise to always be faithful to you, to always love you, to always be committed to you and to show you never ending support. I respect your talents and your abilities, I will lend you strength for all of your dreams and goals. You have shown me what the meaning of true love is, and for that, I am eternally thankful. You are everything that I need; my prayers have been answered. I thank God for you, your love, and your devotion to me. I know that our love is work of hands that are not our own and I promise to be here for you forever. You will never have to walk alone; I will be right by your side. My heart will be your shelter, my arms can be your home. Just as I have given you my hand to hold, I give you the rest of my life to keep. ‘Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you’ – Hebrews 13:5″
It was a deceleration from me to him that I am supportive of all that he does and all that he desires to do. He read it the night before he left, and the look on his face was pure awe. We decided that while he was at CRTC, we would write on days that we could and read them to each other when he was back. Fair enough, I like to write.
The days were long. I couldn’t focus well at work, I wanted to know how things were going, etc. etc. etc. The nights were longer. My mind wouldn’t shut down, wondering how he was handling it all, fast-forwarding a few years to the fact that there could be another deployment for him and that the 2-3 weeks is now extended into 52 weeks, so on and so forth.
I realize that being on American soil, he was safe and that he was going to return home. But that didn’t stop the emotions and the thoughts from going every where else. There were times where I was in tears because I didn’t know if I was going to be strong enough to deal with a deployment if, God forbid, that were to be in our future.
After the first, and hardest, 5 days, things started to smooth out a little. Communication became a little more frequent, but you could tell that we were both antsy for him to come home. The rest of the time went by fairly fast. I found little things around the house or around work to do that would occupy my mind. During those weeks, I felt so many different emotions; sadness, nervousness, loneliness, happiness, cowardice. But I found a Bible verse that made all of those feelings feel so small: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6″. After some prayers, everything didn’t seem so bad.
The day Shane got back was the longest morning I had experience in a while. I was at his house getting ready for him to get back (I dressed up… In a DRESS…and CURLED my hair… He’s something special!), when I got the message that he was within a half hour of home. The butterflies in my stomach started doing their thing, my palms got all sweaty; it was like our first date all over again.
I heard the car pull up and I walked around the corner to catch a few deep breaths before making a fool of myself. I heard him come in and slowly walk through the kitchen. I walked around the corner to see this amazing, smiling man clothed in his ACU’s with an Army bear in one arm and a large bouquet of flowers in the other. Both items got set down and I got the most amazing hug I’ve ever received. All of the nervousness and the anxiousness just disappeared.
We sat on the couch and talked about his experience at CRTC and all the things that they did. I could tell he was happy to be home – able to dress in civilian clothes, sit on a cushioned chair, sleep in a real bed, eat real food. After talking about his time up North, he pulled out the notebook that I had given to him before he left – he had added to it. I will spare you the letters because they are definitely emotionally charged and still bring goosebumps to me when I read them. But a few of the sentences he wrote sums the letters up pretty well.
“I know that the burden of having me so far away, near unreachable, has been one of the most stressful things you have experienced. I need you to know that I understand how hard this has been and that I am coming back to you – that you will never be truly alone. I love you with all my heart, my mind and my soul. I am yours only.” “I knew when I met you that I had just met my wife, life partner, soul mate, best friend, my solid 10. I knew with everything I had, this was it. My life was about to mean a whole lot more. Just as I know that I’ll never be alone again, neither will you.”
Those words will stick with me the rest of my life. I can’t even describe the feelings I had when I read those words. As stated in a previous post- when I opened that office door, there was just something about him – I just knew. He’s brought a whole new meaning to my life; if that means I have to go through a deployment – I will. I’ll stand behind my solider 110% and support his decisions; no matter what.