My Dearest Sister-Wife,
It’s Military Family Appreciation Month, and I’m feeling a little nostalgic. I can’t help but think back to where it began. I know a lot of gals call you a mistress, but that wasn’t really our relationship. We had a sort of symbiosis, didn’t we? We made it work. I waited (mostly) patiently while you took my husband away for lengths of time, encouraged him in his endeavors with you. In return, you gave our family rich experiences, opportunities, and friendships that we would have missed had you not come into our lives.
As I mentioned, for all your good, you did take him away. I’ll never forget sitting in our car, the base’s runway lights flickering like Christmas, but feeling like something very different. Over the rushing of blood in my ears, I heard the baby’s babble and the big’s sniffles and breaking voices as they begged me not to leave just yet. They watched as you took him away from us that particular night. It hurt in the deepest part of my core to hear their pain and to feel the dread of day after day of missing him.
Initially I wanted to blame you, but we both know that ultimately it was his choice. I waited until there was no longer even a dot on the horizon where his plane had been, and took my babies home. I waited for the loneliness to set in.
That’s the thing about you, though: you didn’t leave us alone. We had a community full of solidarity and an unspoken understanding. I’ve never seen anything like it. I knew that we would have help in an instant were trouble to show itself, as it often does when your service member is away. You gave my kids hands-on lessons in what being a neighbor should look like. You also taught them about sacrifice, emotional strength, pride, and getting outside of your comfort zone. You exposed us over and over again to so many different walks of life, and showed how quickly bonds can bloom in unusual circumstances. You gave them fresh eyes for their father…you gave me fresh eyes for him, too. You matched our harder hours up with others who were also missing a parent at bedtime. You reminded me of the absolute necessity of having girlfriends. You forged us into the family of five we are today; we are solid because we knew we had to be. You stretched and grew us in so many ways. You probably could have helped more with the laundry, but you also gave Branden those uniforms, so I guess it evens out.