I met my husband several years after he took an oath with the United States Coast Guard to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I was a bright-eyed bride with my sights set on love, adventure, growth, and success… in that order.
We have learned many things as a Coast Guard family. I have watched my husband grow from a dashing junior officer struggling with his out of the box way of thinking in a linear environment to a confident and resilient leader who gives his all and truly cares about his team. I’ve heard tales of harrowing rescues – and rescue attempts, devastating environmental accidents, as well as the mundane logistic challenges involved in everyday operations.
Each time we move to a new assignment I peel stickers off of our belongings, take stock of what was broken and proceed with creating a home. I have become adept at setting up a new life, but I still shed tears each time I close a chapter and have to say goodbye to friends.
We all have our rituals. One of mine is to sit in our empty clean home after I’ve watched a truck with all my belongings drive away and the walls have been patched and painted. There is a crisp magical moment in that space between an old life and a new life. I can almost see the swirling of realities and I know that once I walk over the threshold of our old home for the last time I will never be able to return. So I savor that moment… it is both sad and happy and filled with excitement and apprehension all at the same time.
We have been faced with both triumphs and defeats over the course of my husbands’ career with the Coast Guard. I should have been clued into the extent of this when he nearly missed our wedding when he got stuck on a remote island in Alaska while on a mission. There I stood as a young bride as my future mother-in-law dried my tears and my well intending bridesmaids filled me with liquor as I made plans to delay our wedding – or worse, proceed without the groom after 80 guests had flown to Alaska for a destination wedding. Yet my groom swooped in at the last moment and all the drama of a typical wedding day disappeared. I should have seen this as a foreshadowing of the sacrifices that laid in waiting for me, as there were many more to come and there will continue to be.
We can’t compare stories of sacrifice because all of our experiences have been different and I firmly believe that humility and service are marred together as brick and mortar. There are fathers that couldn’t be there for their child’s first breath and I’ve watched other spouses celebrate milestones, cobble together holidays, sell real estate, and navigate health challenges alone while their husband or wife were serving the United States Coast Guard.
This is how a spouse serves. We stand strong in the face of challenge and have faith that tomorrow will bring a new day. During our time with the Coast Guard we have weathered many storms – both literal and figurative. We have been through snowstorms, hurricanes, heatwaves, ice storms – most any you can imagine. I view this unfortunate time in the current political landscape as another one of these storms; it too will pass.
I write this not to vaunt of sacrifice and devotion but to offer a peek of perspective from the other side and to thank my fellow Coast Guard spouses for their service because this time, unlike most, the duty is at the homefront.