I wrote this for one of Ameriforce Publishing's magazines back in 2008-2009. Bryan just left for another two week school and I felt compelled to revisit it. So much, and yet nothing at all, has changed since then.
Most girls grow up picturing a romantic proposal, a beautiful wedding and a happy marriage; the epitome of the American dream. They envision a picket fence, two or three diapered children running around and a dog named Spot. As they grow, there are challenges and hurdles, their goals change and form into a more realistic dream, but not without the longing for what happiness "should" be.
Often, I've been asked how my happiness translates into being a military wife. How I can handle raising two children alone, cutting the grass, learning how to fix the shower when it is clogged, and even abstaining from intimacy for such long periods of time. They often ask if this is how I envisioned my life, essentially alone.
Truth be told, it's not.
As I stand here for the second time in five years, I'm reminded of all the things I must face on my own over the coming months. It doesn't get any easier; time can't teach you how to eliminate your loneliness completely or to become used to an empty space in your bed. Time does, however, show your strength, test your endurance and prove to you that your sacrifice, not only that of your spouse, is making a difference.
I still falter in my darkest hours - I am only human. Some days I just sit to watch the very news that I don't want to hear or find myself in my closet smelling a sweater that I can't bear to wash. I don't deny that it is sometimes hard, or that I sometimes question my ability to cope on a daily basis. I do tell them that, in the end, it is worth it. The trials and adversities become small and insignificant when I glance at the tan boots littered around my house that bring a sense of unexplainable pride.
I know I am where I should be when I picture the back of a uniform to offer one last wave before a long absence. Even as he walks away, I am more proud of him in that moment than if he were standing next to me.
So when they ask how I feel about not living their idea of the American dream, I just smile and reply: "We are the American Dream."