The soldier's life is a difficult one. Even if we're not in constant danger, it's still a difficult job, being away from what we know and are comfortable with.
The life of a military spouse, although in different ways, is just as--if not more--difficult. I want to pay tribute to one of those military spouses.
One of the main reasons that I have made it this far in my military career is because of my wife, Kara. As we've talked about my military future over the years, it has often been she that has been the encouragement and the incentive for me to stay the course. She enjoys the fact that it's a way to show our patriotism, and come to think of it, so do I. We just never knew what that really meant until we endured two deployments in 4 years. It's not always easy knowing that doing our duty sometimes means being apart, but as we've come to the downhill side of my Iraq deployment, it's getting easier to see what we've both learned from it.
We've learned that our chaplain is right. He said that separation makes good marriages stronger. Ours is. We've learned a lot about ourselves and our relationship while being in different hemispheres. It's been a great benefit to our children to realize that dad is away from home serving in a worthy cause. It's also interesting to reflect that we never knew how many good friends we had until I went away to war.
I am intentionally trying to give you the impression that things have gone very well for us while we've been apart. That's so I can throw one of those literary twist things in there someplace...
Some nights (okay a lot of them) are pretty lonely for a soldier's wife. When you've gone through things, such as when the lawnmower won't start, when the irrigation water runs everywhere but where it's supposed to, when another tire goes flat or a car won't start, or when you have to sit by yourself in church without your husband for the fiftieth week in a row, you know what it's like to be a military wife. When you run every kid to every choir practice and every ball game and every church activity and every day of school because dad is in Iraq and can't share in the driving duties, you know what it's like to be a military wife. When it's Christmas, and you don't know whether or not your sweetheart has yet opened his presents half a world away, you know what it's like to be a military wife. When it's hard to remember the last free time you had to yourself, you might have an idea what it's like to be a military wife. When you've had trouble with a situation that if only your soldier were there it would make it all right, but he's not, then you'll know what it's like to be a military wife. When at least once a day you hear a child pray "Bless dad in Iraq that he will be safe," you know what it's like to be a military wife.
And if that's not enough, I got the following e-mail from her just the other day. Part of me laughs, and the other part curses at the lousy, lazy, conniving, traitorous liberals we have in our midst, because without their misinformation, disinformation, and downright lies about what's going on here, I might have been home in time to help. The subject line said "I'm Tired":
I just wanted to give you a quick hello. I cleaned all day long, and just barely stopped. You would not believe the mice infestation that we had. I hope that we have gotten all of the mice. Under the stairs was so horrible, that the health department would have shut us down. There was literally piles of mice crap covering the floor. I had to throw away the Christmas tree, because they had chewed a lot of the branches, and it was full of mice droppings. Did I tell you that we caught about 20 mice off those glue traps? Anyway, I don't want to think about it anymore. I will probably have bad dreams. That was definitely a job I would have passed on to you soldier man IF you had been here...
Some day we'll look back on all of this and have a lot of good laughs and I'm sure a few good cries, too. Sometimes it's hard to imagine, but I suspect when we're back together again, we'll be able to say that it was all worth it. I know the Iraqi people will say that it was, and I am therefore grateful that my wife encouraged me to continue serving when, if it had been my own choice, I may have chosen to hang it all up before going on such an excellent adventure.
It's been said that behind every good man is a better woman. In my case that is definitely true. Much of what I am and what I aspire to be is because of my number one fan. I know I'm great, I know I'm strong, I know I'm handsome, and I know I'm smart, because she tells me so.
And so I pay tribute to you, who have been through it all with me, even though you're not here. My military wife. My sweetheart. I love you.