I remember it like yesterday. The day I saw you in your pink Oxford shirt and Wrangler jeans. Playing pool across the room. I watched your every move, the way you talked, the way you laughed. And I knew, I knew deep within my soul that you were the one. THE one I would spend the rest of my life loving. Loving and longing for, missing and needing more than anyone or anything else in my life. Our souls intertwined at the moment our breaths met in our first words. Simple words spoken a hundred times. "Would you like to dance"? In your embrace I knew I would spend my forever with only you.
So young. We were so young. Barely 21. You, just out of basic training, a Seaman eager to see the world from a Navy ship. No car, and barely the clothes on your back. I wasn't interested in your material belongings, I wanted your heart, your smile and your sweetness. At only six weeks of dating we promised to marry each other the following year. I remember waiting for you as you were deployed most of that year. I wrote you every single day, numbering each letter and package. We had no Internet, no cell phones and no easy way to reach each other. Looking back it was incredibly romantic. Penning our hopes, dreams, and desires to each other and waiting WEEKS to get a response. We fell deeper and deeper in love within those letters. They smelled like the ship you were on. A salty metallic scent that reminded me only of you. Even today, 26 years later, that smell takes me back in time to my longing only for you.
Our first homecoming was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. A pride I never imagined. Standing on the pier watching the ship on the horizon get closer and closer. Balloons and welcome home signs. Happy patriotic music playing in the background. Newspapers and TV camera's waiting to document the happy reunions. This community of people were a family. A family I wanted to be a part of. I remember the moment I saw you, tears of happiness, and how the newspaper captured our first embrace. You've kept a photo of that moment framed on your desk since.
Just weeks after your return we were married. The wedding was simple. We wanted to just go to the Justice of Peace, but the people I worked with wouldn't think of it. So, in the gazebo of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, we exchanged our vows 25 years ago this month. An unusual wedding that deserves a story of its own. We just wanted to start our life together!
Over the years we have had easy times and challenging times. It wasn't easy when you had to deploy days after our first son was born, or years later when we lived states apart so we didn't have to move our kids during high school. You've been my rock so many times, a quiet strength that's held me together, especially when my dad passed away. I love you more now than I did on that pier 25 years ago. The difficulties and sacrifices have given our love depth, endurance and hope. Our happiness, laughter and good times as a family out number the obstacles a thousand times over and I am so grateful for that! I wouldn't change a thing, except maybe the hair styles, because it's all worked together for good.
This month, as we celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary, you are once again deployed for our country. I look forward to standing on the pier with the other military families celebrating your safe and happy return. Your "Welcome Home". I am proud to be a military wife, YOUR military wife. I long to be wrapped up in your arms again, sharing stories of our day, and kissing you good morning and good night. I miss the smell of your cologne lingering in our room after you've gone to work, your shaved whiskers in the sink and waking you in your recliner to come to bed late into the night. I especially miss your cooking and the way you bring me coffee in the morning. But more than anything, I just miss your presence, you. Because home will always be where ever you and I are together.
Soon you will be retiring, our home will be an empty nest and our life will change once again. But, honey, one thing will never change. My commitment and love for you. Always you.