All it took was a whirlwind summer romance, and I had fallen head-over-heels for a southern, blue-eyed boy with a smile that makes you weak in the knees.
He had just made his way through a yearlong deployment during the surge into Iraq. A year of what so many describe as hell. He was ready to put it behind him and live his life to the fullest. He was unlike any boy I had met before. It could have been my 18-year-old heart or maybe it was his experiences in life. He was young, yet aged by war. Solid and mysterious with so many stories in his eyes. That summer was intriguing, spontaneous, and the start of a love that has become the foundation for the rest of our lives. A soldier home from war and a small-town girl makes it seem somewhat of a picturesque American love story. A love that started over 15 years ago when I fell for a soldier. That love was formed and continues to grow because he has the following qualities.
Young love is often looked at as a future failure, especially when there is a difference in age. But for so many, that is not always the case. For myself, I found his experiences in life to be something to admire. He was older than me and had seen so much of the world with so many lessons learned along the way. He had been to war and experienced things very few can understand. He had a growing expectation of the person he wanted to be and that has always helped me to strive to better myself. Not only as an individual, but also as a military spouse. Something that is an important part of learning as you make your way through this journey.
His patriotism has always radiated from every part of his being. A man that wears a uniform is more than just what you see. The pride for his country showed me that the love he has is on a grander scale. Having a deeper understanding and respect for individuals. Putting himself in a position of the unknown when he raised his right hand, swearing to defend the Constitution of the United States. Potentially sacrificing himself for the land of the free! A man that fights for what he loves! That patriotism was something I never really understood before I met him. But that pride we each feel is a reminder of why we live this lifestyle.
This word takes on many meanings. Of course, physical strength is the most well-known and always a bonus. But the strength I fell in the love with is different. It is the kind of strength that is an emotional or mental quality. The strength that one has when dealing with situations that are difficult. Something that I would slowly learn to build as our marriage moved forward. This strength I saw in him the day after we got married as he walked away from me to attend sniper school. The strength he had as he marched away in formation headed back to Iraq for a second time as our son screamed for his daddy. The kind of strength that would beam from his exhausted eyes as he would take his drill hat off when he walked through the door. The strength that I so greatly admire, that has pulled me off the ground when our son died. The strength that holds our family together and keeps us grounded. Something that I get a glimpse of every time this military life hands us another obstacle.
There is something honorable and telling about a man that is always supported by his military friends. That no matter how much time has passed since they stood side by side in war that support is always there. Being there for each other no matter what shows exactly the type of man he is. A bond built that can withstand the test of time. That same bond that we grew together that only gets stronger with every school, every gunnery, every deployment, and every move. A bond that is required to make it through this military life unscathed and thriving.
This military lifestyle has shown us many obstacles throughout the years. Those obstacles have tested us but in the end, our love continues to grow even stronger. That love is built on sharing the same principles and values. It comes from a place of understanding and patience. Working together to pour a solid foundation of trust. Love always continues to grow as each year passes, as you learn from one another and embrace the wild ride of military life.