When I was little, I would watch movies, Disney, the old black and white classics, and I always thought love was what I saw on tv. The sweeping grand gesture by the hero, to save his one true love.
It took me months to accept that my love story wasn’t going to be that way. I had married a soldier, and his world was not what I expected. Oftentimes, it wasn’t what I wanted either. I had to give up the idea in my head of what our love story should be, and accept it for what it really was.
Ours is not the traditional love story. It’s not roses and romance, with sweeping gestures that would make movie audiences cry.
Ours is love story of battles. Of wars fought, of distances between. Of schooling and training and time apart. Ours is a love story defined by the balance between love and honor, duty and family.
Ours is not a love story of tuxedos and high heels, but rather combat boots and flip flops.
Ours is a story of meeting on a rainy parade field, in the middle of the night, the first contact we’d had in months. Ours is a story of pinning rank badges on his chest, of staring at the phone at 3 am, willing it to ring.
More than half of my marriage, Hubs has been gone. The Army called, he was needed, and he would leave. The good times, when he was home, when his presence was calm to my high-strung soul, are few and far between.
So much of what you expect your spouse to be there for, he was not. And when he was home, we struggled to put ourselves back together again. The times I sat across the table and looked at a complete stranger, who looked like my husband, talked like my husband, but just wasn’t my husband, in some weird sense, are more numerous than I care to remember.
Ours is a love story of personal battles. Of the times we fought through a deployment, towards each other. He fought the wars; I fought to keep everything together. (I failed at this quite a bit.) Of the times we fought to put us back together, after being apart for so long. Of the times we mended the cracks in our relationship, only to discover new ones. Of the times we fought each other, doing battle until exhaustion took hold, and we had to make peace with each other.
Ours is a love story of golden days. Brief moments where everything came together, and we had perfection. Of the times we strung those good days together as often as we could, trying to pack as much good into each day. We clung to those days to get us through the bad days.
Ours is a love story of Army Brats, of bringing up children in a world that seemed determined to keep him away.
Ours is a love story of finally being in the place, and the time, to come back together. To knit us back together, to bond, to tell old secrets, and heal old wounds. Ours is a love story of peace, on the far, far, side of war. Ours is a love story of our own to write now, the demands of the Army given to someone else, the boots tucked into the closet, the tags in the jewelry box.
Our love story is not the traditional love story. But it is a love story of fighting back the odds, holding on for one more day, and digging in for the long haul. I realize now, the love stories I grew up watching, weren’t real, they were ephemeral, thin, see-through loves tories. But the love you have to fight for, that you give up everything for, that is the real love story.