Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Love Letter Campaign: Loving You with A Patient Heart

You know the first moment I saw you, despite your intimidating appearance I knew you were something to keep an eye on. You had this presence about you that expressed you were worth the attention. I don’t really know how to explain it. I mean watching you walk down the main hallway in our high school looking scary to all and just daring anyone to mess with you, I remember giving you a double take as I scurried away in the opposite direction as close to the wall as I could get. You’ve always been quite striking to me.

What I had not expected was you taking notice of me.

There I was the quiet girl doing her homework just sitting on the outskirts of our group of friends. You know that group who sat together in the morning that our mutual friend drug you over to sit with. I was beneath your notice since I wasn’t anyone who seemed like they would interest you. I guess it shows what I knew, huh? For you did notice me and saw something striking in me and felt you needed to get my attention. Who would have thought that waded up sheet of paper you threw at me would eventually lead to all of this?

I know we didn’t have the most conventional relationship, but then we are rather odd people in our own ways. I remember our first official date was you taking me to the Renaissance Festival. I also remember having to call and wake you up around noon so you would get ready as you were sleeping in from staying up late playing video games. It didn’t matter though for I had a wonderful time that day! Besides I managed to pay you back by bringing you home that night for dinner and threw you straight into the crazy mass that is my family. I can imagine what a shock it was to you growing up in a house with just your mom and step-dad. You did very well though, so polite and my family was taken with you from the get go! Why even my grandmother commented on how wonderful you were the next day!

It was that night though, that night which really was the beginning of us. It was when you first kissed me. You completely surprised me too, which I am sure was your intention. I didn’t know you bending down to “tie” your shoe was a ploy to distract me so when you stood back up you would hold my face and lean in to kiss me. Oh man was I caught off guard! I was in such a daze for the rest of the night!

We were such goofballs too back then! We not wanting to be like everyone else didn’t want to be considered boyfriend and girlfriend; oh no we had to be different. You were my “Keeper” and I was your “Keepie” and our friends teased us so bad over it too. It doesn’t matter though because it is just how we are, how we always have been.

We lived in our own little World the two of us. No one could understand the way we saw things. No one could understand the way we did things. We didn’t hold hands. We didn’t get each other traditional gifts. We showed our affection by lovingly insulting each other. We were in a sense weird, but that was just fine as we loved each other so the rest didn’t matter.

I know when you first mentioned joining the military I wasn’t very supportive. I was rather selfish because I didn’t want to be apart from you. I had finally found you and I just didn’t fancy having to let you go. I was worried that with you being away we’d drift apart or you’d find someone new. I was afraid and wasn’t thinking of your wishes at all.

September 11, 2001 changed all that of course. I couldn’t keep you back anymore. The truth was if I loved you I needed to let you go. If we were truly meant to be then it would work out somehow, but I needed to stop being selfish. You had dreams and I needed to let you see them out because I knew that if I didn’t resentment was sure to follow. I loved you so much and I wanted you to be happy and so I let you go.

When you were away at basic I did everything I could to still cling to what bit of you I had. I played our favorite music. I wrote you many letters. I watched your favorite movies. I spent time with your mom, anything I could to feel connected with you.

Then the letters you wrote in return began to talk about marriage. You wanted to marry me. My worries and fears of losing you were all for naught as you wanted to just connect us even closer, by sharing your name with me. I was so excited but I also had to make you wait. I knew my mother wouldn’t allow us to marry before I graduated high school. Still I knew knowing you wanted me as much as I wanted you made me the happiest girl in the World!

Luck was on our side though for when you graduated Basic Training and after a brief break went on to Germany to begin your true Army life, we also began to arrange the wedding plans. When there was talk of your unit deploying to Turkey my mother was understanding and said we could plan the wedding for before I left school as long as I still graduated. I was a giddy school girl for weeks! Ordering the supplies needed for our wedding! Going to dress fittings! All the while working diligently at school so I was sure to graduate and not disappoint my mom! I don’t think anything could have brought me down then!

Though things were crazy leading up to it, our wedding day was great! The day was sunny and clear and I took the day off from school to become your wife. We were young but we were in love and we knew what we were doing. Nothing was going to stop us!

Though it wasn’t until months later it seemed like no time at all when I flew out to join you in Germany. A 19 year old happily married high school graduate going off on an adventure! I was going to be reunited with my soul mate and we were going to live our lives to the fullest!

Then of course two months later I was saying goodbye to you yet again on a very emotional day as you ventured off to Iraq for a year. Your job came first then and I knowing how important it was to you did my best to be supportive. The year was long and rough. I waited by the phone and computer so as not to miss any communication with you! I dove into activities to stave off the loneliness and worry for your safety.

Then you were injured not once but twice. Both affecting you far deeper than we ever expected. When you returned home to me, you were a different man. I didn’t see it initially as I was blinded by the happiness of having you home again with me. In fact I didn’t see it for sometime because I didn’t understand it. How could I? You were no more prepared for it than I was. We found ourselves drowning in a World of PTSD, TBI, and chronic pain. You were all over the place with your emotions. There was anger, depression, detachment, but that happy guy I married seemed to be missing. I was lost as I stood by and watched this new you. I shed many tears while deep inside I wished for you to return to me.

I watched you punch holes in my walls. I watched you break my furniture. I watched you throw things across the room. I watched you yell and throw insults around. I watched you slam doors and drive away. I watched our children cry because they didn’t understand. I watched you spend hours upon hours asleep avoiding everything. I watched you stare off into space disconnected from everyone. I watched you avoid sleep at night because you wished to avoid having nightmares. I watched you pace throughout the house and check every lock while drawing the curtains. I watched you jump and hit the floor when loud noises were heard. I watched you get angry while driving and punch the roof of the car breaking the windshield. I watched you avoid leaving the house. I watched you shut down completely upon your return home on the days you were unable to avoid venturing out. I watched you struggle with inner demons I knew nothing about. I watched you scream in frustration and cry in misery.

However, I also watched you down on bended knee with eyes so guilty and an apology on your tongue. I watched you beg me not to go despite who you had become. I watched you tell me you loved me and needed me to stay. I watched you hold my hand and tell me you appreciated all I do for you though I deserve better. I watched you fight yourself to try and be a better person.

I knew then that it didn’t matter. It did not matter that you were no longer the man I married entirely. It did not matter that you were now ill. It did not matter that you were now disabled. It did not matter that all of this meant life for us would be a long time struggle. None of it matter except one simple thing.

I still loved you and I always will.

You are my soul mate through and through and I shall stand by your side forever! You may feel I deserve better, well I feel you deserve me. A friend, a partner, a lover, a wife, a caregiver, and of course everything else that entails because you will always be worth it to me! Always!

As always, eternally yours,

Your Loving Wife with the Patient Heart

Submitted by Aimee L. Taylor

This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

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