Some of the bravest warriors I know aren't the ones in uniforms, they are the ones left behind on the home front. Yes, I'm talking about you, military spouse. I see you, I know you, I admire you, I am you.
On veteran's day we give thanks to all the men and women who have served, and those that are serving. We give thanks for their bravery and their commitment to serve the greater good. We give thanks for their sacrifices. I see you, military wife/husband, I see you sanding quietly by their side as praise is given for their service.
I see your strength and your independence. You have learned to be resilient. You have traveled, left home and family for an unknown country, state, city, town. You've become an expert at building a life.
You've created a new home, learned to navigate around a new city, made friends, started a job, started school. You've struggled, (calling it struggling sounds like a lousy understatement) but after awhile you've adjusted, you're happy.
I see the questions, impatience, and uncertainty, as time has run out and a new list of jobs and duty stations has appeared on the horizon again to simultaneously cast shadows and hopeful rays upon all that you have come to know.
Suddenly, new orders are cut and you're packing up and leaving it all behind to begin again. I see how hard it is. I see you are excited and nervous all at the same time. I see how you've learned to crave adventure. I see how much effort it is, the stress of it all. I see how you have turned those white walls into a home, and the heartache as you watch it stripped apart by strangers and their moving boxes.
I see how you miss your family and your friends. I see all the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, class reunions, weddings, births, funerals, that you miss or spend alone. I see how hard it is keeping in contact with those you care about because you're in a different time zone.
I see you as you wave goodbye to your spouse when they leave, AGAIN. I see you as you paste on that reassuring smile, doing your best to assure him/her you'll be aright, so they can concentrate on the task at hand.
I see you as you comfort your children during deployments. I see how you deal with the children's grief at the separation. I see you holding them at night, wiping away their tears, consoling them to sleep. Only then, do you crawl into your empty bed and shed your own silent tears.
I see how you battle your own sadness. How you watch these beautiful children of yours laugh and smile. They say the most heartwarming, hilarious things. The person you've made them with, the one person in the world that would be filled with as much pride and love as you are for them, that person isn't there to share it with. I see your sadness and longing for your partner in these precious moments that they will have forever missed.
I see your regret and your longing. I see you put that candy in the jar. The paper chains you make so that the little ones can visually see the timeline of when their parent will return. I see you up late at night, sneaking in extra candy and adding paper links because the deployment has been extended.
I see you doubt yourself. Questioning if your doing enough, being enough, for your children, while you do the job of two parents. I see you smile because you've got this, you're doing it on your own and you've proven you're stronger than you ever imagined.
I see the elation when they return from deployment. I see how that void that has been felt every hour, every minute, is finally filled with their return. I see the love.
I also see the frustration, the anger and bitterness as you try and relearn how to live in each other's lives. To learn how to grow together again after you have had to fight so hard to learn to live without them. I see how it hurts your heart that they have changed, that there is a piece of them that has hardened and is foreign, even when you know their face, scent, and touch, better than anything else on earth. I see how people that have never lived through this just don't understand this.
I see the love you have for your spouse and for the family you have created, by blood and by choice, during this military journey.
I see you adapt, again, and again, and again. I see the trials and the triumphs. I see the commitment, sacrifices, patriotism and strength you have. I see the late nights, the duty days, the deployments and the training -all code meaning you, YOU, military spouse -you are solely responsible for holding things down on the home front.
I see you and I am honored to know you. Honored to be one of you. I thank you, military spouses. Thank you for your service. You are warriors.