When you first introduced yourself I didn’t know much about you. I apprehensively shook your hand.
That clammy first handshake turned into a begrudging nod and after six years of eye contact we’ve become intimately acquainted. Since Hawk’s days of wearing camo and dog-tags have officially come to an end, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on a few of our memories together.
I still remember the night our stories intersected – sitting in the passenger seat internally reeling from the words that just came out of my friend’s mouth, the man I was slowly getting to know and really like. It was the 4th of July.
Months later when the thought of you hadn’t scared me away, that man finally asked me out…and then told me that we’d have to wait two weeks before our first date because he was leaving for annual training. That was my first introduction to your secret code and club of acronyms and the two-week wait of AT.
Six months after that first date, I stood on a helipad and watched through blurry, tear filled eyes as I said farewell and you took my man halfway around the world for a year. I despised you the most that day.
I wrote in my journal shortly before he left:
I have exactly one week left before I kiss my man in his helicopter and watching him fly off in the sky, most likely not to see him again for a solid year. I’ve kept it together for the most part. Sunday was his last Sunday at church and he wore his uniform and our sweet Pastor prayed over him. I kept it together then. Yet last night as he held me, silent tears rolled down my face and he kissed them away (its not just something in romance novels). He held me and let me sniffle and get mascara on his shirt. And he spoke reassuring words. And I loved him even more.
We have purposefully enjoyed every single bit of time we’ve had together. We’ve gone and had many adventures. We’ve gone to a baseball game, danced in the streets under the road lights, made a fort, picnicked in the living room, helped our church make food bags to feed 50,000 local hungry children, and have had multiple movie nights cuddled under my girly pink quilt.
Every day I spend with him it is a new “best day ever!” He makes me happy. And he’s my very best friend. And the idea of not being able to call or hug my best friend or hold his hand or kiss his cheek anytime I want, hurts my heart. But it also means that we are learning not to take each other for granted. That every single minute we have together we treasure. And when he gets home, we will have the rest of the years of our lives to be with each other if God so wills. And that is comforting and exciting.
Thus began the love/hate, mostly hate, over-before-you-know-it countdown.
Days passed, calendar pages turned, and at the start of summer you gave us a glimpse of joy. We reunited for a brief four days under the watchful eye of time-keeper Big Ben. As long-awaited as it was, it swiftly ended and with one last look in the airport, I was on a plane back home.
Six more months passed and over-before-you-know-it finally earned the minuscule amount of “love”. My camo wearing man ran into my arms. Home. To this very day, no joy has topped that particular joy. The joy of togetherness. And then he got down on one camo clad knee and offered me the name engraved on his silver dog tags. I said yes. And with my “I Do” six months later, I became an army wife.
Weekend drills followed and annual trainings passed, and now we’ve known each other for years. I do need to offer you some thanks, though. You’ve allowed us good memories and life preparation lessons. We were able to save money during the deployment and you’ve given us the opportunity to buy our first house with a VA loan. You’ve given me the joy of seeing my man in uniform. I’m such a proud wife.
I began learning how to wait during my years of singleness. In a way, the Lord had been preparing my heart for years to meet you. See, I waited all my life for Hawk. He was my first boyfriend, my first kiss, my first love. I started writing letters to my future husband when I was twelve, and even then, God was instilling a habit in me. Little did I know, years later I would be pouring out my heart on paper and then addressing those 48 letters to a APO Box overseas. It came full circle when I wrote my last “Dear Future Husband” letter in the form of my wedding vows. See, although you could have torn us apart, once I found him, I wasn’t going to let him go.
As hard as it was to meet you – and embrace you in a way, you’ve played a huge roll in our story. If you weren’t the third wheel, who knows if we would have met or gotten together in the sweetest love story way that only God Himself could’ve penned. During the year where you borrowed my man we learned to communicate in those deeply personal ways when time is precious and moments are few. We fell deeper and harder in love and began to dream. Those dreams eventually became reality. You helped show us that love cannot be selfish and to appreciate the small things, like a two-minute FaceTime call because of a major time difference or an old voicemail saved and listen to on repeat when the nights got long. You taught us to say no to good things for even better things. You not only helped provide for us financially but have also given Hawk valuable career and leadership skills. You’ve given us friendships with others that we never would have otherwise gotten to experience.
Your season has come and gone and it’s time to say goodbye and I’m sorry, not sorry, to finally wave you out of the picture.
You will always have a place in our story and whenever I hear the National Anthem or I see my man in his dress blues, I will think of you. And I will smile.