An open letter to my husband on Mother’s Day,

I know there is a day set aside for fathers especially but I wanted to take this Mother’s Day and thank my husband. First and foremost I want to thank him for the gorgeous little girl who shares half of his DNA. It takes two to tango after all. 😉 

Second, I want to thank him for supporting me throughout my pregnancy, for every back rub, ice cream run, every night you cooked dinner, and reading to my bump when it was barely a bump. I know it is hard for men to realize their role as a father while their partner is pregnant but you cared, you engaged, you became a father when I showed you the plus sign on that test. 

Third, for not backing down in the delivery room. You held my leg and you got in there and watched our daughter be born. Your strength is the reason I got through labor, the reason I found it in myself to dig deep and push. 

Finally, and maybe most importantly, I want to thank you for the way you support my ability to parent. Our situation is somewhat unique. Your deployment means I am solo parenting and you have to be away for nearly the entire first year of our daughter’s life. 

But do not doubt that you have a significant impact on her life at the moment. Because of you I find the strength to get up at 6 am after 4 hours of sleep (rarely all at once). Because of you I am able to present my kindest, most patient self when our daughter is difficult. Because of you she and I will never want for comfort and security. Because of you, I understand I must fill my cup before I have anything to give to our child. 

Giving birth may have made me a mother, but you make me a good one. 

I love you.

Marry a Soldier and You Will Know True Love

You have never read a love letter until you have read one sent home to a soldier’s lover

And if you are not that soldier or his lover it is unlikely you will ever

Until their lives have waned and their years have been spent

And the pain of that distance has faded to a wistful reminisce.

You have never read a letter filled with so much palpable longing

And an honesty so profound it bleeds onto your fingers like spilled ink

And capped with a sign off of resignation and the literary equivalent of a sigh

As he hurries through the hastily scrawled pages to not say goodbye.

I love my soldier. I will treasure his hand written letters all the days of my life.

A soldier’s Wife

I Hope She Finds Somebody Like You

I hope that love finds our daughter like it found me. That the stars align to find her soulmate has been there the whole time. Waiting. Waiting for the moment when everything is right, when the complications of her life have resolved to the point of sustained happiness. 

I hope that love whispers softly into her dreams like the scent of a garden wafting on lofty breezes trampezing through sun baked air.

I hope that love finds her with kindness, seeking to elevate her, hold her up to find she is worth more than she believed herself to be. That violence is blinded by the glare of a gentle soul seeking in her the self same care. 

I hope that love finds her through the heart of a loving partner who holds her hand each time it nears their own. Who says, “I’m sorry,” regardless of who was wrong. Who nurses no ill will even to those who’ve done them harm.

I hope she finds somebody like you. 

Day 100

We have made it 100 days into this deployment. I feel the size of that time as well as it’s insignificance on the scope of the timeline of our life together. 

Still I feel it in the loss of your smell in a T-Shirt you left on the floor from the night before. I feel it in the small rearrangements of our kitchen to accommodate my own needs rather than ours. I feel it in the contents of our fridge filled with foods of which you disapprove.

I feel it in the constant stretch of my heart as it pants to hold on to our love, our marriage, the intimacy of our conversations. I feel it in the grains of sand drifting from between my clasped fists as I try to hold on to this time with our daughter yet quickly get to that still too distant day of homecoming. 

I fill it in the inches she has grown since you could cradle her in one arm, cup her head in one hand. I feel it in the grasp of her mind as she becomes more and more aware there is a world surrounding her. 

I have survived 100 days without your nearness. I told you I would wait for you. 100 days, 1000, an eternity. Perhaps this is my Atlas moment but it is a weight I willingly bear for the promise however far of holding you within my arms again.

Here’s to 100 more. 

A Soldier’s Wife

I Needed You Today

Today was hard. I wish every letter or poem I wrote to you could be full of encouragement and hope for the day you come home and most days I do feel those things. But not today. Today I cried. Today I broke down. Today I was weak. Today I needed you.

Our daughter is teething and the rice cereal the doctor recommended gave her gas. She fought sleep, she refused to breastfeed, I felt like a failure of a mother. I thought, if only you were home, maybe something you would have done could have helped her. 

I always believed you would be a better parent than me. And now you are thousands of miles away, the more nurturing of the two of us, and I am the one solo parenting. I don’t know what I’m doing but I do it because there is no alternative. Our daughter needs me to forge on. So I push past the tears, the stress, the doubt, the loneliness and I find myself at the close of yet another day without you by my side.

I am tired today. My back aches from rocking her for hours. My head is pounding from the screaming. And my heart is heavy with the awakened ache for my partner, my help mate, my refuge. 

Today I failed you, this deployment, and our daughter. But tomorrow is a new day and I will try, try, and try to do better, to be the strong woman you both need me to be. Because I know a strong support system at home can keep you safe. 

I miss you a thousand times over. I just can’t wait until you are home again.

A Soldier’s Wife

Remembering Myself Next to You 

Three months apart from the love of my life may not seem like eternity from the outside and the countdowns, the lonely evenings, the barrage of consoling quotes hyperbolicly excessive. But rest assured this separation is the most difficult thing in my life right now. We know the measure of this sacrifice. The length between us is measured in our longing. The space between when last we touched and the promise of kisses to come. 

And when I saw you walk away on the dawning of the last day I felt truly alive I had to quell the swell of pain, the stretch of agonizing apartness we have never truly known. I still suppress it because it is overbearing to let myself feel the scope of how much I truly miss you. 

And now all I have is the memory of warmth on my skin, blood flushing my cheeks, and the quick beating of my heart. I am cold without you. In stasis. Waiting for the light you emit to thaw the freezing of my veins, my brain, my momentum. 

Because I cannot allow myself to be the person without you that I am with you. That person feels with too much open, raw affection to survive cut open without protection. But I can remember the person I am when I am with you and revive her on that distant day of homecoming when you resuscitate the stillness, bring alive my passion, the life that thumps beneath my chest. When two souls mated are reunited the world will come awake again and I will find restored the pieces of my whole.

Happy Birthday!

I hope you know how much I love you and wish I could be with you to celebrate this day. My hope for this birthday is that you find some time to relax, to clear your mind and center your thoughts, to realize where you want to be when your next birthday rolls around. 

My gift to you, hopefully, is peace of mind that I will care for your daughter, that I will cherish our marriage from thousands of miles away, and that I will protect your trust.

Know that I will think of you all day, treasuring the memories of your birthdays passed and anticipating the joys of birthdays to come. 

I love you. Happy birthday, from your soulmate halfway across the world.

A Soldier’s Wife

Thank You For Falling in Love With a Broken Girl,

When I lost my grandfather over five years ago I felt like I had lost my best friend. To a little girl whose father had abandoned her, my grandfather was everything. He and my grandmother took my fleeing mother and us three fatherless babies into their arms without question and I as the youngest and weakest took to my grandfather’s quiet masculine kindness the most. I adored him. I followed him everywhere. I copied what he did. We ate cornbread and milk on the front porch on warm, humid summer evenings. We listened to whippoorwills hearken the coming summer days. He slipped dollars into my palms whenever I asked and often when I hadn’t. From diapers to college he did these things. Until he no longer could.

The years after he died I felt lost. In body, mind, and soul. I had looked up to him and respected him so much. You can’t lose somebody you loved and just go back to living like you did before. I didn’t know how to live my life anymore.

Then I met you. Like my grandfather you emitted an attitude of candor, generosity, and innate wisdom. You had an easy sense of humor and a ready smile for anyone. You jumped at friendships, regardless of the risk of free fall. You befriended me though I was nearly a shell of a person. Then a funny thing happened. We fell in love. Quickly, then everyday since. I was broken but you took the time to see I could be repaired, put back together with the golden adhesion of your patience, laughter, and gentle reminders that I mattered to the world.

I would not have survived not meeting you. You pieced the puzzle of my heart back together, and added a greater complexity of happiness and self-worth than had been there before. You understood my brokenness, the loss I had experienced, and respected the influence of my grandfather on my life by asking for my hand in marriage on a hike to visit his final resting place, a mountaintop he had frequented, taking long breaks to absorb the magnificence of the vista. A place where he had passed on a love of nature to his children and grandchildren, a respect for the history of our family, the silent nobility of mourning the loss of his loved ones. Where the gods of the Appalachian Mountains had welcomed his soul into their guardianship.

You understand all this about me and more than I probably even know about myself. Every single day I thank the stars, God, the gods, the divine uncertainty of Chaos that I skipped work that day and found the love of my life.

Once again a whole human being,

A Soldier’s Wife

The gift you gave me unknowingly

You told me in the middle of an argument just before you deployed that you would forgive me for cheating on you. That statement shocked me because I wasn’t sure I could return the sentiment. For the longest time I told myself I could never be with somebody who would cheat on me. I would never be able to push the treachery from my mind. I respected myself far too much to stay. 

I can say now that I would stay with you through far worse if you still wanted me. 

I cannot envision a future where you exist in the world without me by your side. I love you. Through every bad day, every mistake we may make, every slump. I have carefully considered this since you told me and I can finally say I would forgive you. If in this distance and loneliness you experienced a moment of weakness I could not fault you for finding comfort where you can. And if you still had love for me and our family in your heart I could move past my pain and sense of betrayal with time. I love you too much to pay much attention to what others may think or believe is right. They may not understand. But you and I share something the world does not have to comprehend. 

This is not to say I believe you ever will cheat on me or to give myself some kind of pass to cheat on you and point back to this for mercy. For you, my forgiveness would know few boundaries because you extended me the same when I could not reciprocate. I just wanted you to know.

A Soldier’s Wife

My Husband,

How could we have known when we shared shy glances all those years ago that we would build this life together? You were dressed in your uniform on a swelteringly humid and damp day patrolling the tents at the county fair. I wore a strappy long dress with bright colors and my hair was wild with the static and moisture of the September heat and playing hooky from my part-time cashier job that I held between my undergrad and grad years, in town for a much needed break from the monotony of retail. 

I don’t think either of us was looking for love that day. Our hometown was probably the last place we expected to find it anyway. We had both had our first loves and broken hearts. We were in relationship limbo. Seeing you tripped me up. We broke all the rules from that moment on.

From a movie date that wasn’t a date, to hazy tequila flavored kisses, and a sunset on a mountaintop, our love story blossomed as quickly and as beautifully as Easter flowers. I was told to expect it to end, that relationships like ours were doomed to fizzle out. That the shiny would tarnish and the world would tint black again. But 3 1/2 years later and I fall in love with you more and more everyday. I don’t know how my heart creates room for our love to grow but by and by new seeds are sown and the garden of our devotion bears new buds each and every time I visit it. 

We have found Paradise in each other’s soul.

A Soldier’s Wife