i have known elise for a long time. i am so proud of how she has handled paul's first deployment...with grace,honesty,and strength. i know you will all fall in love with her just like i have. i can't wait for the day i see elise+paul reunited. they are both very blessed to have each other.
I am so excited to be joining in on Stephanie's LOVEly things month. I have read this blog for ages and have always admired Stephanie's strength and positive attitude as she dealt with Jimmy's deployments. I didn't realize those early days that I'd eventually end up married to a deployed military man and going through some of the same things. Life is funny like that.
Stephanie asked me to write today about how I have shared love with my husband, Paul, over the past six and a half months while he's been deployed to Afghanistan.
What works for some couples doesn't work for others. And that's awesome. That's what makes us unique as people and what makes some couples really click. Paul and I are a very "clicked" pair.
We are on the same wavelength and have been for years. No one gets me quite like Paul and because of that, I was so nervous about the time we'd spend apart. And then I became more scared when I started getting advice from all angles about how to make it work.
It was impossible to prepare for that first deployment when I didn't know what to expect. So I sort of blocked out all the incoming information and reminded myself that it was about just the two of us.
And then Paul left.
I remember so clearly standing in that airport. I expected to break down. That's a lie. I expected a full panic attack shut down. And then something crazy happened. Paul lost it. My Paul, my rock, lost it. That snapped me back pretty quick (have you ever noticed that only one partner can panic at any given time? The other always shifts into "comfort-mode.") and I knew Paul needed me as much as I needed him.
I also realized right there, in the international terminal of LAX, that this was going to be 100 times harder for Paul then me. He was going out into a scary place where he knew no one. He was going to be responsible for the health of 700 service men and women. He was going to face extreme weather and homesickness. He was stepping off into the real unknown. That was an important perspective shift.
I made it my mission to show Paul love and support. Since he has been gone, I have mailed him over 120 cards.
I scoured etsy for cards that would make him smile. I found funny cards, supportive cards and a few R-rated cards. I sent a card almost every day, with long letters scrawled into each. I always ended with a variation of : "You're awesome. I love you. I miss you. Be safe."
We have also exchanged thousands of emails. I email him links to funny news stories. I email him hilarious tweets from famous people. I email him photos of the random stuff I see while I am walking around. I do my best to share the daily stuff.
I know that it's the mundane details that he misses the most.
And sometimes I just type my daydreams. Plans for the future. Plans for next summer. We have been making arrangements for a road trip as soon as he's home. Talking about that stuff gives us something to look forward to and is a reminder that we're not stuck apart forever.
I kept thinking about how people would see on facebook that it was his birthday and they'd write on his wall. I liked the concept of people showing love, but I wanted it to mean more than just a line in his email inbox.
So I emailed our friends and all of our extended families and had them send birthday cards for him to me. Then I gathered all the cards and stuck them in a box that said "Don't open until December 15th."
We were able to video chat as he opened the box filled with an outpouring of love and support and birthday wishes. He was surprised and overwhelmed, like I hoped he would be.
He opened the cards over a period of about a week and told me again and again how much it meant to him.
Spending any amount of time apart from the person you love is hard. Spending months away is that much harder. But there isn't another choice.
I love Paul.
And Paul is who he is because he signed up to be a doctor with the US Navy. I have not been perfect in dealing with this. I have broken down over the phone or email a few times and I know that has made Paul's time away more difficult. But most days, I have stayed upbeat because it is so much better for us both.
I love Paul more today than I did on August 5th in the LAX terminal. I am so proud of him. I am SO excited to throw my arms around him and welcome him back.
He works so hard for our family, our future and for our country. I know a bunch of cards can't make up for that. But I also know that he knows I love him and am rooting for him, praying for him and supporting him everyday. And I think that helps.
Elise Blaha Cripe is a crafter and blogger who lives in Southern California. She has been in love with Paul for almost six years and married for almost two. She is anxiously waiting for his return and in the meantime has been turning her house into a craft museum. You can connect with her on her blog,twitter or pinterest.