I don't think it's a stretch to say that last year was the hardest of my life. Your absence, all the memorials, all the tears, all the heartache, taking care of our son, supporting and being supported by my friends and fellow Army spouses, listening to the exhaustion in your voice after each blackout was lifted and all the emotions that filled each one of those moments -- my heart breaks again and again thinking about it.
I think it's safe to say that this year has been the second hardest. Does reintegration EVER end!? At what point in time will we go back to being like we were before? I want the innocence back. I want returned the knowledge that each and every one of my friends is safe at home with her husband.
But I already know the answer to that question, and it's "never." That's what they mean by the "new normal," right? That you can't go back so you have to get used to what you have now.
This isn't easy for you, either. I see the pain and exhaustion caused by the memories -- it's the same that I feel. And yet you still get up every day and continue the work of protecting our country.
"Our country" -- what does that even mean? Such a nebulous word. I know that when you say that you picture me, Dave, your family and sometimes even those jerks that protest at veteran's funerals ... or at least their right to do so.
You volunteer to go first down the road that is dangerous and far away from your family so that others can stay home with theirs. You protect our freedoms with your willingness to sacrifice. You join others who do the same -- who have been to hell and back or who have given their lives for such a purpose.
I am unspeakably proud of you.