If you know me,however you could tell his life story forward and back.
I am proud of my husband. I am proud of how brave he is and how he tries to give back to all those around him. This time of year always makes me so grateful to have him here with our family because I know that a lot of families are going to have love ones missing.
Sometimes it takes not having something to realize how blessed you are in the first place. If I have learned one thing, it is to appreciate it now.
Almost six years ago, we sat on the dock in front of his company headquarters. Six years ago, I cried harder than I ever even knew was possible. Six years ago it felt like my whole world was crashing around me. Six years ago my three oldest children and I said good bye to Blake for 15 months.
I had crazy thoughts that day. Maybe I'll brake his leg, then he can't go. Maybe I'll brake my leg, then maybe he won't go. I thought about hiding him, running away, but the whole time Blake reminded me it was what he was trained to do. The weeks before he left were filled with horrible conversations I tried to avoid, things like "if I don't come back I want you to remarry. I don't want you to be scared at night and have no one to hold you" or "I would want to be buried here." He would talk about it without any emotion while I on the other hand would always start to cry.
I had watched my friends go through deployments and had wondered how they could be so strong. There was no way I could do that. Never say never.
So the day came. Blake's mom, step dad, father, and step mother along with our three young children went to see him off. It was hands down the worst day of my life. Everyone cried. A lot. Blake and I could not unwrap our arms from each other. The kids were young enough to not understand what was going on but old enough to know something wasn't right.
Hours of waiting and finally Blake was told to get on the bus that would take him away. You hear the words heart broken but until you felt it there are no words to describe it. I couldn't let go of Blake, that was my world climbing on to a bus that had no promise of bringing him back.
His roommate grabbed me and promised me he would get Blake home. He told me don't worry, he's coming home to you. Blake got on that bus, no matter how hard I cried, no matter how much oxygen refused to fill my lungs. He left.
For a few hours I honestly didn't know how I was going to live. My father in law wrapped his arms around me and let me cry. He gave me a few minutes to mourn and truth was I think he was holding us both together.
My sweet mother in law watched the kids as I fell in to my bed convinced never to wake up again.
But I did have to get up. I did have three little human beings who needed a mother.
It wasn't fun. No one thought it would be. Every time the phones would get cut off, we all knew what that meant. Hold your breath, pray no one knocks on your door, and wait to hear that your love one is alive. Every time he would call and say that he made it through an IED or things I won't write about here, you would fall down on your knees and give thanks for one more day. Blake missed first words, first steps, first hair cuts, first days of school. Words might not describe broken hearts but I promise you can hear it in someones voice. Every day all he wanted was to be with us. Some people never got the chance to be with their families again. You stop taking that for granted.
Tucker, our oldest was scared of buses because he thought they take hero's away. Elora grabbed Blake as he left to board a plane to go back after his R&R and screamed, "No, don't take my daddy!" over and over again until every person in the airport was in tears. Blake spent Christmas in the rain, doing patrols, away from us.
I don't tell you this for you to feel bad for us. As you might well know we are together now. Being the toughest challenge made it the best reward. We grew as a family and as a couple. We are grateful for what we learned along the way.
The reason we made it was you. Yes, you. Every person who wrote, send cards or packages, said thank you, prayed, and supported our troops. Every day you made that burden one that Blake was glad to bear.
This holiday season, many men and women are somewhere besides home. Police officers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, and others all missing their children's faces as they open presents. Soldiers around the world clinging to pictures to remember home. They need to know they are not forgotten. They need to know we are behind them. They need to know we are here. Send cards, send letters, pray, say thanks, just don't forget those who get forgotten. And let them know, when they get home, we will still be here.