Thursday, June 9, 2016

Boatswain… Stand By To Pipe The Side... A Navy Wife going Ashore.

Like many Military spouses, we met our significant others midway through their careers. I didn’t meet my husband when he first got in, but I met him, I think at the right time in both our lives. For us, our 14th year of marriage is coming upon us here in a couple of weeks, but that is not the occasion that will be momentous for us this year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that we have made it this far, but it’s the transition of going from military to retired military that will be the biggest journey we will embark on. After 24 years of loyal service to his country and his Navy, my husband retired. Suffice to say, it has been a stellar 24 years for him and a career that he can be proud of. For me it is 14 years of loving and supporting this man through the deployments, rocky commands and all the stuff the military tends to throw at you.

It is somewhat bittersweet for me. As much as I have cursed the Navy for taking him away at times that I sorely needed him, I am going to miss it. There were duty stations where I felt the sense of community and even when there wasn’t one, I had always managed to connect with someone who was military. Over the years, I have been proud to call myself a Military spouse. Not only did I marry my husband, but I married his occupation as well. I have been places that I would have never thought about being. Saw things that I only thought existed on a post card. Now as my husband says goodbye to an aspect of his life, I too, say goodbye to that as well. I say goodbye to a lifestyle that has held me for 14 years. The moving every three years, the re-establishing yourself at every new duty station. The panic of watching all of your worldly possessions being packed up into a crate, but most importantly saying goodbye to a community that has supported us and him for 24 years.
I look back at it all and remember fondly of the people and places I have met and been. The friends made over the years. The people who helped me get through some of the darkest times in my life and the ones that taught me a lessons on how to be a good spouse, the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s the growth of my person that truly amazes me. When I first got married, I was a scared person. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Not one bit. I was in love with a man. Just a man. The military aspect of this man came later and when it came, it came at the velocity of a hurricane. My first deployment, which seems like forever, was only two weeks. To say that I was a mess is an understatement. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I think I might of cried myself to sleep every single night he was gone. Sad, I know, I was young and in love. I missed him, but I grew from that. As the deployments kept coming, the more I centered myself. The more I discovered that I get through those deployments. I still missed him. I still had my moments of self-doubt. I managed. I coped. As those little deployments at the beginning of our marriage prepared me one by one for the many years I was going to endure without this man. I will tell you, by the way, that nothing tests you more than a deployment to a War Zone. It doesn’t matter how many times they go over there, they are all different. It is during those times, when the advice of the seasoned Military spouses will get you through the darkest of your days.

On June 3rd, 2016, I became a Veteran Military Spouse. 14 years I provided love and support to my sailor. Never will I ever regret the moment when I said yes to that man. We have been through so much that I hope that my words of wisdom help someone struggling, as the advice given to me many moons ago help me get through the tough stuff.  I take pride in calling myself a military spouse. It was bittersweet for me to watch my husband retire. Listening to “Olde’ Glory” and The Watch being read aloud and, the remarks of the guest speakers who came to celebrate this man’s naval career made me reminiscent. Those moments of happiness. Homecomings, meeting his children for the first time, surprising him at work when he put on First Class and of course pinning on his anchors at the USS Utah in Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t until the sound of the whistle that signaled Piping Ashore, that it all came flooding back to me. It wasn’t just him saying goodbye, but I was too. The Navy has been a part of my life not just his.

As he transitions into this next stage of his life, I will be there to hold his hand, to love and support him, as I had before. That part isn’t anything new. For him, he will always be a Sailor and a Chief. A sailor till the end. As for me, I will always be the one who helped him maintain his footing as he goes forth. I too, will forever be a Military Spouse and a Navy Wife. A title that I am proud to have been given.