Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Love a Warrior

Why, hello, boyfriend in uniform
Ten years ago today, Aug. 10, 2001, was one of the best days of my entire life. After 6 weeks of emotional solitude, 42 days of writing letters, and over 1,000 hours since I'd last heard his voice, I was reunited with the man who captured my heart.

Aug. 10, 2001, 8:56 a.m.:
"I need to write! This very moment my mind is racing with elation. I am on the 921 MTA bus to Annapolis, MD to see my Mid who's been at Plebe Summer for 6 weeks. I cannot put into words this feeling of my heart leaping out of my chest, floating in front of the bus, with me anxiously trying to keep up with it. My insides are screaming from the soles of my feet on up. I am going to see the boy I'm in love with, and this overcast gray sky couldn't be more beautiful! I praise God that the next time I step on solid earth outside this bus, I will be in the same town as my heart for the first time in 42 days."

I remember that morning so well. Waking up at my Uncle Bill & Aunt Pat's house in Virginia well before my alarm clock, so excited today was the day I would get to see Nick. I remember making the trek across the tri-state area on the Metro, then the bus, so I could get there in time, each hour that passed a true test of patience. Meeting up with Nick's family on the parade field, together trying to somehow spot his gorgeous eyes in the sea of uniforms marching in before us. And then, finally, at 12:15p.m., when formation was over, finding him and getting that kiss I had so patiently waited for. (Photo taken at that fabulous moment!)

At this point in our relationship, we had already been apart (6 weeks) for longer than we had been together (5 weeks). Perhaps I should have taken that as a sign of things to come. Looking at the bigger picture, I knew that seeing Nick this weekend, the weekend before his classes started, the weekend before I made the trek from Texas to Florida to start school myself... seeing him this weekend meant we might actually be able to make it. The alternative, of waiting a whole six months, from June to November was simply unbearable for my 18 year-old heart. Getting to see Nick at Plebe Parents Weekend meant hope for us, hope for our future.

And somehow, even at 18, having only been "together" for five weeks, I somehow knew Nick would be part of my future. I had never met anyone like him, such a hard worker, such dedication, such sacrifice in order to meet his goals, such athletic perfection, such strong faith. After spending so much time with him finding myself in love with so many things that make him who he is, the separation was unbearable. It took a strength inside me to realize that the same qualities leading him toward his goal to serve his country, doing one of the most difficult jobs possible, were the same qualities that made me love and respect him so impulsively, so freely, even in spite of knowing how hard it was going to be to be apart for several years.

I love our story. How we started as friends. Fell in love. Overpowered time, distance, and military commitments so we could be together in the end. It's our story... and yet, it's the story of so many women like me who have found themselves unmistakably in love with one of the bravest, strongest, humblest men in our country, those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

No question it isn't an easy road we've traveled. There isn't a whole lot of glory in the day-to-day reality of having no control over your time together, worrying about him when he's gone, or always putting your career second. And there's no way to avoid feeling like you're constantly missing someone, whether it's him while he's away, or your family back home, or the best friends you left behind at your last duty station.

But the alternative, to live life without this warrior's heart alongside your own, is somehow even harder. There is a dream in each of us who love someone in the military, a dream that after each separation we will somehow find ourselves together again. A dream that, when it doesn't come true, shatters the hearts of us all, whether we knew your warrior or not. For on any given day, we know it could have been us and though we seldom admit it, know it could someday still be. And yet we know that the love we have is a precious gift, only made stronger when we recognize it can be taken away.

All along I had planned to write something to celebrate our 10-year milestone of hope. Of course what we didn't know 10 years ago today is what would happen in just one month's time that would change the course of our country's history forever. And what I didn't know when I planned to write about this is what would happen this very week to shatter the dreams of so many families. But in light of the tragedies we now know of, I think it's even more appropriate to celebrate what it means to love a warrior. There's a risk in loving and losing that is unbearable to think about. And yet, it's a heart so strong and powerful, it's worth the leap of faith for the hope of another day together.

Aug. 11, 2001, 12:37 a.m.:
"I never knew that dreams had glowing green eyes. I never knew that dreams could hold your hand. I definitely never knew that dreams could come true. But apparently, with the right bit of luck and some serious prayer, God sometimes blesses us with dreams. I definitely didn't know how great dreams look in uniform!!! But now I do, and I get to see my dream again tomorrow! Lucky me - a whole weekend full of dreams!"

Dedicated to anyone who has ever loved a man in uniform.


  1. Beautifully written, Peyt. Boy does this bring me back. I love your story, too! You guys are such an inspiration. Love always!! Sara

  2. Tears to my eyes Peyton! I've definitely held onto Colin a little closer in recent days, it's amazing how quickly we can lose them. Beautiful story my friend.

  3. Your love is so so very sweet. And love - all kinds - is all that matters. Love and hugs to you and Nick!


Hey there! This blog is no longer active. If you write a comment, I will receive it, but may not respond right away. Thanks for stopping by!