Dear National Guard and Reserve Spouse,
I see you.
I see that you are just like me. That you fight back the same tears, straighten the same shoulders, and force that same last, little smile when you watch him walk away not knowing if that is the last time.
I see you hold those same little hands and hold those same tiny bodies when they cannot understand why “daddy has to leave.” I see that you fight for the same strength, pray the same prayers, hope for the same hopes.
I see that you are fighting as hard as you can to simply survive on those days while an entire country calls for you to thrive.
I see that you push through the hard days, the long nights, without the community that I am so fortunate to have. I see that you battle through the same fears, the same chaos, without the same brothers and sisters beside you that surround me. I see that you fight like hell to do it on your own without the same resources and preparations that my community almost takes for granted.
I am in awe of you for that.
I see that you swell with the same pride when the national anthem begins and are overcome by the same paralyzing pain when a flag is folded and held between gloved hands. I see that you too know what it is to forget to breathe. What it is to sob until no tears are left.
I see that you know what it is to feel broken beyond broken and to still get up and keep moving forward.
I see that when disaster hits our own homeland, the same uniforms are put on, the same boots are laced, and you must live through whatever that disaster is while your partner goes to help everyone else.
I see how much pride and pain that brings at the very same time.
I see you.
I see you fight through reintegration in a nation that still doesn’t understand. I see you try to carry him while his two worlds crash back into each other – half the world expecting him to be exactly the same as before and the other half scared that he cannot be. I see that strength in you, and that heartache, and that sadness. I see how much that breaks you and heals you, breaks you and heals you.
I see those things in me too.
I see that you feel like you do not have a place. That my community isn’t your community. I’m so very sorry that too many people make you feel that.
Your struggle is my struggle. Your heartache is my heartache. Your brokenness is mine too.
I see that you are just like me.
That you know that guilt and relief too often go together, how absolute joy can consume you, what it is to finally breathe after three months, six months, nine months, twelve.
I will carry you. I will support you. I will welcome you. My community is your community. You are my sister, my brother. I’ve got your back.
You are just like me and I will always see you.
An Active-Duty Spouse