A question that was actually posed to my 25-year-old self.
How the heck would I have known what kind of wife I was ready to be? Seriously. Did other brides-to-be get asked similar questions?
I’d never been a wife, for goodness sake. All I knew was I fell in love with a Man. Who was a Marine.
Now, years later, I reflect back with such wonder. How the heck did we make it this far?
Because what I didn’t know in my 20’s about being a military wife was…
We would say goodbye to each other, a bazillion times~Sometimes with only a few days notice. And often for 6 months or longer.
But absence would make the heart grow fonder. And hand-written love letters would become golden.
These same separations would fall over more occasions than we could count: birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, weddings, funerals, etc.. and the list would go on. and on. and on.
But receiving my favorite flowers or phone message on my “answering” machine would make my heart sing. And I would learn the kindness and grace of neighbors, friends, family.
We would learn about things like burial wishes, life insurance plans and eminent danger pay.
But, we would cry buckets of tears and then put our faith in God.
Our life would be full of things like orders, with little-to-no say- in what was next: 6 months, a year, 3 years.
But we would live in places we never imagined, often experiencing retrospective blessings.
We would make friends fast.
But we also formed a habit of including others; we knew what it was like to relocate. To be new. Lost. Homesick.
We would experience moving all over the country. For short term. And longer.
First, finding a new home. Followed by a million boxes, unloaded off an 18-wheeler, struck with anxiety over all.the.stuff.
But we would become world-class purgers and organizers. Fluent in making a house a home. We developed a skill of hanging pictures on the walls~in record time. Even though we might be packing them up, filling the nail holes, only months later.
Becoming skilled at making stuff work~we learned ultimately things didn’t matter.
We would find ourselves on the outside of circles… ya know, the people who had known each other since their kids were in kindergarten. Neighborhood friends. School friends. Sports friends.
But we would learn how to introduce ourselves. Be uncomfortable. Say yes. Initiate.
While our military friendships would not be defined by geography. Or status. Or anything else. They would be lasting. And could pick back up on a dime. And, if we were lucky, we would make a true friend at every duty station.
We would know what it was like to watch the hearts of our kids break; missing their Dad so much they came unglued.
But we would pick up the pieces. Because there wouldn’t be any other alternative but to keep on keepin’ on. They would learn about service.
We would lack the luxury of making educational plans for our kids or dropping roots in our favorite beach town. Climbing the personal career ladder would have to wait.
But we would learn to be flexible. And master the art of reinventing.
The needs of the Corps would almost always trump ours. And we would learn to accept it. Albeit, sometimes
begrudgingly irrate pissed-off mad-as-hell unenthusiastically.
But we would ruck up, pack up and drive on. Learning to go with the flow. Improvise. Dream a new dream.
We would develop resiliency. And learn to adjust. Endure.
In time, we would understand that military life could be a calling.
Even for the spouse; despite sometimes being referred to as a dependent, his social security number, or simply as the commander’s wife.
But he would call me his long-haired center of gravity. Secretly, I would begin to believe it.
The sacrifices would sometimes be excruciating and at times seem unbearable.
But, in the end… it would be worth it.
*This piece was originally published on My Battle Call.