by Randi S. Cairns, Guest Contributor
My soldier doesn’t know that the hurried “miss you, Dad” in passing on Skype was preceded by nights of tears and “when’s he coming home?” and “why isn’t he here?” and “why do I have to share him?”
My soldier doesn’t know that when his firstborn son (the spitting image of his father) walks by, that my heart catches at seeing his image reflected in our child.
My soldier doesn’t know that I keep a mental list of all the share-worthy stuff to tell him but then, upon seeing his face, get lost in those eyes and forget everything else.
My soldier doesn’t know that my body physically aches with longing for his touch.
My soldier doesn’t know that I hold his cologne bottle to my nose just to catch the memory of his smell.
My soldier doesn’t know that I sleep in his spot each night, just to make sure it’s not empty.
My soldier doesn’t know that I blow kisses into each care package before I send it on its way to him.
My soldier doesn’t know that our babies wear his shirts to bed each night or that I want to cry each time I find those same shirts in the laundry I’m folding.
My soldier doesn’t know that I still stock the fridge with his favorite foods.
My soldier doesn’t know that I get giddy pulling up to the house and seeing his car in the driveway, before reality kicks in.
My soldier doesn’t know that I clutch my phone like a lifeline or that I’ll leap out of the shower with shampoo running into my eyes to “catch him” when I can.
My soldier doesn’t know that I miss the sound of Velcro.
My soldier doesn’t know that I have a love/hate relationship with the airport.
My soldier doesn’t know that I talk about him constantly to keep him present in our kids’ lives when he’s away.
My soldier doesn’t know that I hate being called “strong” by outsiders when most days I feel like I’m swimming against the tide and consider it a victory if no one has drowned.
My soldier doesn’t know that I say “fine” but I mean “lost without you” when he asks how I’m doing.
May he always know that despite all of these things, I’d choose this life with him a million times over any other alternative.
As a military spouse for over two decades and a mother of four, Randi knows firsthand the challenges of military families both when their loved ones are deployed and when they are home. Randi is the Founder and Executive Director at Home Front Hearts, a nonprofit organization serving New Jersey’s military families. She currently serves on the Military Family Advisory Network’s Advisory Board. When she’s not busy advocating for military families, she’s a closet writer. She is a co-author of Stories Around the Table and has guest blogged for Spouse Buzz, Homefront United Network and MFAN. Her favorite gig is parenting the world’s greatest children.