Spouse of a Soldier

Spouse of a Soldier

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

Spouse of a Soldier

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was 1990. The winds of war were swirling fiercely. My husband was an F-16 pilot, and I knew he would be leaving soon. I had received many words of support and comfort from friends and family, for which I was very grateful. Still, terror gripped me.

I knelt in church on Thanksgiving Day and felt the warm stream of tears flow. A small age-worn hand grasped mine. The tiny, frail woman next to me understood: she had sent her husband to World War II, her son to Vietnam and now her grandson, my husband, to Desert Shield. From this diminutive form, I drew great strength. For the sake of my husband, my children and my country, I could now hold back the tears.

Not long after the New Year dawned, my husband and his comrades strapped into their jets and headed over the ocean. We wives banded together. We laughed together and cried together. We commiserated over all the household catastrophes that only happen when husbands are away. We didn’t speak too much about our fears; those were understood.

Inside I quaked with every Scud launch. Every report of a downed plane wrenched my soul. Yet, before anyone else could see the strain on my face, one of the wives would see it. She understood. She would speak no words, but would grasp my hands. I would do the same for her.

The day came when our husbands returned. I had heard that they were coming but was afraid to get my hopes up. Part of me was steeled for my husband to be missing. When I saw him step into the hangar, tired and worn, I felt like a new bride.

After the band stopped playing, the parade was over, the hugs and kisses were given and he was home, I could only cry and tremble the way you do after a near-miss, head-on collision. I thanked God for my husband’s safe return. I thanked God for the loving support of family and friends. I thanked God for the strength of the wives. He understood.

Ten years later, we are called spouses, not wives. The last decade has wrought many changes. Some things, however, remain constant. Whether husband or wife, we are still married to soldiers. When duty calls, the soldier will answer. In fact, he may seem eager to leave those he loves and fight the good fight. It is hard to be married to a hero.

A soldier is called to fight, and the spouse of a soldier is called to understand. Understanding makes you a hero, too.

Denise J. Hunnell

More stories from our partners