The first few years of our marriage, I used to keep a big red permanent marker and “X” off the days Rob was gone on our wall calendar. It seemed like a good way to mark those days away and focus on the days I had with him. Afterall, we were doing our part to serve our country and all of the people we love by helping to protect our freedoms. It was worth it.
Around the five year mark I had to stop. It was too depressing. There were far too many red “X”s. I even stopped counting the trips. Once they were done, they were in the past and I dealt with the next one as soon word came down. I had to add them up last year and felt a huge hole. Lost time together that we were never going to get back-not just for Rob and I but for our kids now too.
Rob just told me that he is coming up on 1,200 days away for TDYs or deployments. It brings tears to my eyes. That is almost 3 1/2 years that we have spent apart in our 13 year marriage. That is 1/4 of our marriage. Who knows how many more days that we spent dealing with the lows and challenges that come with preparing to leave and reintegrating upon return. The upheaval usually lied with me, not him, but they did create upset in our lives. That is a lot of days.
The older the kids get, the more they are affected. The more tears and questions. There are some days that I think this is crazy and I can’t keep doing it. Most days, I am thankful.
I am thankful that we are able to contribute to the safety and freedoms of our nation.
I am thankful that he has returned home safe every time.
I am thankful that we have not had to live a life with lifelong war wounds.
I am thankful that he gets to do a job he loves.
I am thankful for all of the benefits available to us as a military family.
I am thankful that when we are done with service, we will have health coverage and a pension.
I am thankful that society appreciates and recognizes his service.
I am thankful for all of the amazing places, people, and experiences we have encountered because of our military life.
I am thankful for the opportunity to show our non-military friends a little about this life so they can better appreciate the sacrifices given everyday by the 1% wearing uniforms and their families.
Even though I struggle daily with the sacrifices, I am thankful for all of the challenges because they make us stronger, better people.
I am thankful to live in a safe and free country where I can fight for needed changes.
I am thankful that at the end of the day, I am thankful, because I think that is the only way that I can make it to the next day.