You left today. You strapped on boots, hefted a bag and left. Off to protect people you don’t even know and who don’t even care that you are doing it. Today I gave up my other half and it is crushing me.

The build up and anxiety I felt was choking me all day. If you watched me you would have seen tears so close the surface that at any given moment they were about to cascade down my face. I blinked back the moisture so many times that my eyelids hurt. I did my best to swallow that big, awful lump a hundred times today.

At the airport I watched you hug your son and baby girl goodbye and my resolve started to crack. You hugged your siblings and your parents and I had to walk away to do more blinking and more swallowing. After a few minutes of measured breathing I turned around and looked at you. It was my turn. Everyone left and we were alone amidst a sea of holiday travelers. There is no way to fully convey how much you will miss someone through words but I sure tried. I know that moment was hard for you too.

After I said goodbye and walked away I had to stand against a wall To prevent me from doing what I really wanted to do… curl into a ball and sob. I stood there, alone, trying to command my breathing to return to normal. Trying to get my heart to stop hurting. Trying to swallow that ever-present lump in my throat. Trying to blink away the tears that I did not want my kids to see.

I don’t worry about your safety. You are the most capable person I know and you can get through anything. I feel such pride in you and what you are doing. I love the patriotic duty you have and the fact that you are putting it all on the line for your country. I hate the distance. I hate the uncertainty of when we will be able to talk. I hate knowing you will miss so much. I am afraid of those nights when I roll over and realize again that you are gone. I am afraid of those days when your daughter starts walking and you don’t get to see it. I am afraid but I am also grateful. This scenario has been happening for centuries and I am so grateful that at least I will have the resources available to talk to you and text you often. I know where you are going and what you will be doing. Some people don’t have that. I have both of our families close by for support and love. I am grateful beyond belief for that.

So, my love, I miss you and I love you with every fiber in my body. This  next year will be hard, so hard. But we will make it through and survive somehow. The good news is that now we can start the countdown and the preparation for your homecoming.

Stay safe and take care of my heart, I packed it in your bag and sent it with you.