But what they didn’t know: I AM with family.
You came from New Jersey with postcards, an open ear, and a willingness to show me that civilians do care. No matter how often I tend to believe they go about their lives without ever knowing or realizing what our world entails.
You came from Savannah, where I learned that gender is basically the only thing that separated us. Those who wait are on the same ride, and I’m thankful to have my horizons broadened in understanding what it looks like when a wife leaves for war.
Some of you came from GA, CO, CA, OK, KY, WA, D.C., NY and NC. Showing up online, always willing to pick me up. Walk beside me. Hold my hand when I felt weary, and cheer with me when I stood again, ready to fight.
You were in Germany. Where a friendship remains firm, strong, and vibrant, no matter how many miles separate us. Through pregnancies, babies, and deployments in white outs, we remain devout to supporting each other. No matter what.
Some of you live down the street. Knowing my “deployment hairdo,” my struggle with Phish Food addiction, and my babies who often came to your houses.
Some of you, I only met recently. And wish I had found you years ago. But happy I will have you years from now.
Some of you have endured this deployment by my side, leading by example. And proving beyond doubt that honesty about a struggle never means lack of pride or commitment.
Some of you I have met. Hugged. Walked with to support our heroes. Some of you I have never seen. Never known your real names. But I know a warm embrace awaits me if we ever meet.
And then, there are two of you.
One of you stood at my wedding, singing for me as I walked to him. Doing my toenails and fingernails. Pampering me.
One of you knew him before. Knew me before. Watched us fall in love, and continues to stand with us each time we reunite.
One of you chooses to take me, us, my children as we are. Always willing to be there, no matter how hard I am.
One of you listens in silence while I cry. Scream. Complain. Rant. And laugh sadistically with mania.
One of you cusses when I need you to. Chooses my side no matter what.
One of you has been beside me for 15 years. And I can’t imagine life any other way.
One of you I have only known for two years.
But you are me. And I, you. Crying for him as he walks out the door. Holding children back as they beg for him.
Pushing through each day of a deployment, determined not to be beaten or flogged. Hoping for grace, and accepting competence.
One of you sat in silence. While I sat in silence.
One of you will continue to sit, stand, and fight beside me. Until they all come home.
Without you, Keri and Chris, I wouldn’t be me.
And without all of you, I wouldn’t be here. Standing taller. Loving harder. And knowing more.
All of you are family. All of you helped me through. All of you, I love.
Thank you for never letting me fall.