We are the luckiest ones.
This past week Facebook has been booming with deployment goodbyes and deployment reunions. Katie has Brett back, but Meesh says goodbye to Matt and Leah to Andrew. It almost brings me to tears remembering the day I had to say goodbye to Martin for a year. It felt insurmountable. I remember driving back to the house on 190 and almost passing out from crying so hard. I honestly told myself that I either needed to pull off the road to keep crying or at least hold it in until I got home and parked the truck. The time goes by faster than you expect it to, but still looking back and saying “he was gone for a year” is hard to wrap your mind around. Because a lot happens in a year and you imagine that because you are separated that you are not connected. But some of the times when I felt most connected to Martin were when he was deployed. Hell, its how we fell in love, when we fell in love. A whole year. It’s still so long. I think of that as the worst day in my life. And in comparison, there are plenty of bigger worse days that are possible, but also in comparison, saying goodbye on deployment day is pretty dang bad. I just remember the crying. Not being able to do anything but cry. Bottomless crying. And then Martin getting a hard on when we were hugging goodbye outside the truck for the last time. How’s that for taking the pressure off the goodbye. So not dramatic. So normal. So dude like. So perfect.
We are the luckiest because we have the best possible Army scenario. On Martin’s side of things, he went to USMA, he helped people, his life at times was so intensified, choices and their consequences had real meaning, he was a fantastic commander, and now his abilities, skills and experiences from being in the Army have lead him to Harvard. The best business school in the world. He’s come out of the Army on top and moving forward. Not dead. Not with so much emotional scar tissue that he’s not the person he used to be. He survived, we survived.
We’ve both gained perspective that our peers here at HBS don’t have and will never have. Who is America? The average person in the HBS circle has an Ivy League undergrad degree. The average enlisted soldier in the Army has a family to support and no undergrad degree to speak of. On the officer side you have a bunch of great guys doing what they wanted (and if not wanted at least what they anticipated doing) after graduating college, but their counterparts, their wives – my friends, are struggling to find meaning in their own lives and work. Trying to play the part of wife, yet individual.
For me, I feel in love with a man in the best way possible for me. Slow and over deep conversation. I had intensity in my life, but not so intense that Martin came home in a casket or worse, in pieces. I had love letters sent to me. I figured out, and yet am still figuring out, that my value as a human does not depend on where I work or even that I work.
I am a better version of me because of my experience as an army wife, but truly believe that was best suited to be a time in my life, not my whole life. Now that I am being given the opportunity to pursue my design dreams, I believe I will be in the future, an even better version of me.
Though after an emotional viewing of Gettysburg (the movie) and hearing the outpouring of Martin’s heart, his devotion and love for the military, I prayed a quick prayer. Praying that if need be I could do it again, I could give up the plan I have for my life so that Martin could go back into the Army if he wanted to. I prayed for the strength but not in a way desperate “please don’t let it be true” way, but in a peaceful “I can do this if you lead us down that road” way.