So these “Grateful” posts were supposed to be on Friday, but after several lengthy battles between me and a thesaurus the only synonym for “grateful” that starts with an ‘F’ is “favorable” and that just didn’t fit the ton of what these posts are supposed to be about. So two posts late, I’m posting these first two on Saturday and moving the rest of them to Thursdays.
On to the show:
My husband recently dedicated this song to me. I miss my husband dearly. He’s nearly halfway home and not a day goes by that I don’t wish he could come home one day sooner. I’m not missing my “better half” as that would imply we are not whole people on our own. This is not the case. I am simply without my best friend. The man, no, the only person who has been there through some of my darker moments. The one who lifted me up when I needed it. He hasn’t always been the perfect husband, or even the best husband. I have been far from the perfect wife. We have each, over the years, had our moments of being less than lovable. Less than worthy to be loved by the other.
I wouldn’t say that joining the Army has been detrimental to our marriage, but it has changed the way we interact with each other. Everything, for a long time, seemed very superficial. We don’t want to hurt the other or cause problems between us so we just skim the surface. We put band-aids on flesh wounds and patch bullet holes with maxi pads, but haven’t really been connecting.
Being apart for so long has changed us both. I can only hope these changes are for the better. I know that I am a different person now than when my husband left us for the war four and a half months ago. I know that he is changing on a daily basis and this song is proof. In the week since he posted this song to my Facebook page, I have listened to it nearly every day. It is a way to help me connect with the man my heart longs to see, the one my arms long to hold, the one my lips want to kiss.
Through this separation, my husband has learned the value of real quality time and for that I am grateful. Every day he has done something more to impress me. To court me, as it were. From half a world away, my husband is wooing me like I haven’t been wooed in years. It’s the beginning all over again. I go into detail about how I met my husband here. Something I haven’t talked about is how he proposed to me. I am thankful for the man that he was, the man that he is, and the man that he wants to be. With that, I think I’ll live in the past for a moment, one of the best moments of my life:
July 19th, 2005: My mother-in-law’s birthday. I packed my hot pink suitcase, stacked my teddy bear and my photo album on top and knocked on my mother’s bedroom door. In a little town in Florida, I had given her a migraine and she wouldn’t even come to the door to say goodbye to me. She stayed in bed. I walked out the door. My aunt, my mother’s younger sister, and a group of my friends (I love that they were so supportive) drove me to the bank to get some cash and then off to the airport I went. I was wearing a black and white hat with a slightly wide brim. Clutching my teddy bear to my chest, I said my goodbyes at the curb and walked into the airport. I forgot my album. Too late now, my sister had it last time I heard anything about it.
My suitcase was 62lbs, why I remember this, I don’t know. I remember feeling like a child, so scared and so alone. Still clutching my teddy bear and my neon green carry-on bag, the man/boy behind the counter must have thought I was a child. He put the “over-weight” sticker on my suitcase and let me go to security without paying the extra fees. I’m very petite and was even more so then, I can see where I would have looked like a child, crying and clutching my teddy bear, you certainly wouldn’t have guessed that I was nineteen years old and pregnant.
I don’t remember security, I don’t remember the flight at all. It was nonstop, I remember that because I was afraid to change flights. I wasn’t in a state emotionally where I could have handled that. The first thing that I remember after leaving the check-in counter at the airport in Tampa, is standing at the top of the escalator at the airport in Los Angeles. Looking down, I saw him standing at the bottom holding a stuffed animal. Coming down the escalator, I imagine the look on his face was a mirror of my own, stupid goofy.
I remember him putting his arms around me and replacing my teddy bear with this monkey he had. It was wearing saddle shoes, a top hat and tuxedo and held a heart shaped pillow that read, “I love you”. “It’s the closest thing they had to a Wookie” I remember him saying though I can’t remember when. “Look behind the heart” read a tiny card still attached to it’s wrist today, behind the pillow was a pocket the held a pair of delicate Tinker Bell shaped earrings and matching necklace (Side note, I’m still afraid to wear this set because it’s so delicate that I don’t want it to break). Along with the jewelry, was a note instructing me to squeeze the wrist of the little monkey I now held tightly.
“Will you marry me?”
That’s what it said once I’d pressed the correct wrist and held it closer to my ear so I could actually hear it. My father in law was filming this whole encounter and had asked people to stand back in anticipation of my husband getting down on his knee to ask for my hand. Something that I know bugged him to no end because my husband never did. That’s right, I got no “on the knee in the middle of the airport baggage claim” proposal. I got something so much better. I was held in the arms of the man who would comfort me through so many hurts during one of the most intimate moments we could possibly have in public.
He held me close, listened to the sound of his own voice coming from a stuffed doll and became mine forever. I will always be grateful for everything he does for our marriage and our family, but all of that started with a set of choices. He took a leap and asked for my heart and I handed it over without a second thought. And for the rest of our lives, I will be able to replay his proposal whenever I want.
And I do…