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An Unusual One Year Anniversary

Photograph by Getty Images

It came and went without any fanfare: one year. Not our anniversary or a little one’s birthday, but the anniversary of the day he came home. The day we both never actually thought would happen. The day I took a deep breath for the first time in nine months. The day he met his daughter.

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It’s funny the days that stick out in your memory after years pass. I remember random breakfasts we’ve had together, the shocking moment I saw him after all of those uncertain days and countless moments since, but the ones that escape me are the big days. The way he looked when he left is one of the biggest moments that I can’t recall an image for even after those long months when I clung to the idea that I wouldn’t forget the last time I saw my husband. On the days and weeks that passed without a word, as unannounced visitors knocking at the door gave me a lump in my throat, I clung to the idea that I couldn’t forget that last moment, thus, it wouldn’t be our last.

One year of invisible battle wounds that have brought our family closer than ever and pushed us further apart than we ever thought possible

There were days since he returned home that I didn't know how we’d get through. Days that turned into weeks were filled with the challenges of reintegration (or the adjustment soldiers face reentering civilization after months at war). It wasn’t an easy battle—and it’s one that makes me apprehensive for future deployments. It isn’t the time apart or the distance that I fear. Our relationship can handle it and technology can do amazing things. It’s those months following when life outside of our walls must still move forward and yet it halts the moment we pass through our own front door.

The juxtaposition between the reality we are living and the reality the world sees is harsh and unforgiving. The days that ended in silence and turned backs, thoughts racing as we struggled with what to and not to say to each other, how to handle this elephant in the room that was WAR. We survived it though. We have arrived at the other side, as much as there will ever be one. We are one year out. One year of invisible battle wounds that have brought our family closer than ever and pushed us further apart than we ever thought possible, that have dried our tear ducts for decades to come and have given a totally new perspective to challenging circumstances.

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Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are always the little challenges; the moments that catch our breath and remind us of that another deployment will come. It’s a reality of this life we lead. There will always be another deployment. Another hurdle to climb. Another rift that we don’t know how to resolve—but this is the life we chose. To love each other, to live this life and to take the good with the bad as it comes, together. We celebrated one year in the perfect way we should: playing at the park with our daughter and our friends, celebrating this life the best way we can—by living it.

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