Well, we got separated.
Not from each other, silly.
From the military.
As of today, P-Daddy is officially discharged from the United States Air Force.
He was active duty for seven years before we decided to settle into little, old Dover, Delaware.
At that time he joined the Reserves, took a full time job working for the state, and we purchased our first home.
I’ll never be able to speak for his experience in the military because I’ll never truly know or understand what it means to serve.
But I can say that until recently, I had no idea the kind of sacrifices he was making during his three tours (plus a civilian year long contract) in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The pillar of strength that he is, he was the one who reassured me, gave me hope, and made me feel loved from half-way around the world during every deployment.
To listen to him during our daily phone calls, letters, and e-mails, you would think that the Middle East was a rather boring vacation with bad food and crappy accommodations.
Now I know that he was not only protecting me physically from the evil in the world, but from all of the emotional anguish that goes along with it.
I lived under a naive little rock of base housing where I believed my husband was eating mess hall slop, getting ripped in homemade desert fitness “centers”, and watching bootleg movies into the night.
He never spoke about the horrors of war even though I assured him I would provide a listening ear.
A soldier’s job is to protect and I can only imagine all of the experiences he is protecting me from.
But who protects our soldiers?
Who guards their hearts and souls and shields them from evil?
Who takes away the nightmares and the flashbacks?
Who holds them after their instincts have been trained to seek and destroy danger?
I consider my sacrifices as a military wife minuscule compared to those of my veteran.
I do not say this to minimize the sacrifices of other military spouses.
I only mean that I was blessed to have a huge network of support to hold me up during the hardest days.
My family and friends were only a walk down the hall, a drive down the street, or a phone call away.
I slept peacefully at night dreaming only of the day he would come home.
I lived in denial.
And I suppose that was the only way I could live.
Separating from the military as a family has been a surprisingly mixed bag of emotions.
A part of who we were no longer exists, and yet it shaped so much of who we are now.
But one thing is clear.
The time was right to say goodbye to the military family and focus on building and protecting our own.
I thank God every day that my husband was safely returned home to me FOUR times and that we have a chance to grow a family and grow old together.
And I will forever be indebted for everything he did for our family, even before some of us came into existence (Peanut!).
Being a military family was an honor and a privilege, but it’s time to go our separate ways.
Because it’s this family’s time to be together.