Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Love Letter Campaign ~ You Are Home to Me

My dearest Kyle,

I still remember that May day in Raleigh. I got off the plane and ran to the ladies’ room to touch up my makeup and spritz some perfume before you showed up. I was so excited. I was waiting at baggage claim when I saw you walk around the corner in your “No, I will not fix your computer” shirt that is adorably too-small for you (it is okay to get rid of it, y’know), with a huge grin on your face. You picked me up and wrapped your arms around me, and stole a little piece of my heart in that moment.

I remember that August day in Portland, where you were waiting for me as close as security would let you. I ran down that tunnel toward you, dropped my bag, and you crushed your mouth to mine as you swung me around. When we finally got to the car, you stopped kissing me barely long enough to tell me you’d brought me a little gift - one of your favorite desserts - an East-coast novelty I’d never had. Your thoughtful nature has always been one of the things I love most about you.

It’s been six years, and I still remember those snippets like they were yesterday. Life with you has been filled with those magical, heart-stopping moments - pulling into the parking lot for a sunset walk on the beach, singing along with “When You Say Nothing At All” on the radio; driving down the road on a weekend getaway, feeding you spaghetti from a take-out box, stealing kisses at all the stoplights; our three-year anniversary at a resort out here, where our waitress paid for our breakfast because she overheard us talking and deduced you’d just gotten home from Afghanistan. Our old apartment manager still talks about us. The day we came in to sign our first lease together, we looked so in love that she still remembers that day as well as I do.

When I got your recall orders that day in December, my heart sank. We had only been living together four months, and they were stealing you back! You packed up to drive out to Lejeune, dropped me off at school one last morning and kissed me good-bye, and headed out on your year-long trek that would change things for us permanently.

In a lot of ways, I appreciated that deployment. I think we learned to love each other more than we thought possible. Every day was precious, and every word was sacred. You started every conversation with “My love!” or “Hi, sweetie,” and I ended them with “I love you, schnookums.” My heart swelled with pride when others would ask about you. I remember the tears in my eyes when you had flowers delivered to work on Valentine’s Day, and how everyone else in the office was jealous when you told me you were sending me to a day spa for Christmas. You were half a world away, and still did your best to make me feel special. Deployment was far from easy for both of us, but we made sure the other was taken care of.

Then you came home. We celebrated our three-year anniversary, and you got a new job here. And we struggled with reintegration. You were so willing to fight for us. We went to counseling for months, trying to find that sweet spot where we fit together so well again. It was too elusive, though, and we went our separate ways.

That year apart made me value you even more. I called you on what would have been our wedding day, because I missed my best friend. I wanted to spend what was going to be one of the happiest days of my life with you.

The last six months have been wonderful. We both learned from our mistakes in that time we spent apart. I know, without a doubt, that my heart was meant for you to hold. We both acknowledged that six years ago, but now I know that we were right. That “soul mate” I bragged about is still in there - sometimes hiding, but there nonetheless.

Things haven’t been easy. You deal with pain daily, and aren’t that touchy-feely emotional guy I fell so in love with. My heart has hardened a lot with all that anger you had when you came home, and I’m slowly learning to communicate in a healthier way.

But I’m not giving up again. I missed my sexy man. My thoughtful, sweet, hard-working man. I missed the best steak-griller I’ve ever met. The one who makes me feel safe and respected. I missed you, and I realize that every time we kiss. You are home to me, schnookums, and I will be by your side to support you, love you, and be patient on those days when your feelings are elusive. You were so strong when I needed you, and now I’m ready to be strong when you need me. We can face those scary feelings and emotions and the rest of the world together, because while we may not have always had faith in “us,” we’ve always had faith in each other.

I love you.

Always yours,

- Brianna

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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