In 2011, my husband joined the US Navy and was prepared to leave for bootcamp a few months later. At the time we had recently had our first daughter. He left for bootcamp on February 2, 2012. Our daughter was only two months old at the time. Saying goodbye at the airport wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be but I attribute my lack of tears to my disbelief of him actually leaving.
I didn't think being away from him would be so difficult but it was hard to hold myself together most nights. Eventually, I got into a really great routine with work and our daughter. I knew I'd start receiving letters soon but in bootcamp they can only call three times: when they arrive, half way through to discuss graduation plans and after they have offically passes. I definitely wasn't expecting anything more than that.
As Valentine's Day approached I missed him even more. Having to walk by the dreaded pink aisle at every single store was really starting to take a toll on me. I'd read statuses about everyone's plans or cute little pictures and feel sick. But it was almost over!
Valentines Day started to go by like any normal day and I avoided all social media. Work kept me pretty busy that day so it seemed to fly by. Every evening I'd sit on the couch with our daughter and rock her to sleep. As I was preparing her bottle for bed my phone started ringing. I never in a million years could have prepared myself for this phone call.
My heart immediately started racing as I saw it was the same area code he had called from the first time. I laid our daughter down and answered as quickly as I could without dropping her. The moment I heard his voice I fell apart. I never thought hearing hello could make my heart skip a beat.
I couldn't even reply. Tears started frantically running down my cheeks as I sat on the floor and just listened to his voice as he tried to get me to talk. Babe? Hello? Babe, you there? Once I could eventually talk all I could choke out was, "please come home." And the other end of the phone went silent. Next thing I heard was him sobbing. I had never heard such a sad sound in my life. I just kept crying.
In the background I heard the most disheartening voice tell him to wrap it up and get off the phone. Through tears he told me he had just called to get me to fax him a copy of our daughters birth certificate and social security card. He didn't even know it was Valentine's Day. As we said our I love yous and hung up I felt so out of sorts.
My heart was so warmed by just getting to hear his voice for five minutes but it was broken because he still wasn't home. I immediately started thinking about all the spouses who were missing the same day with their loved one. And then my heart was shattered. I just sat in the floor and cried a little longer for the other ones missing someone that evening.
I'm grateful that he was only at bootcamp and not deployed. I know it could have been a worse situation for him. But it doesn't change the feeling of longing. It doesn't make me miss him more or less.
This Valentine's Day I will say another little prayer for everyone missing their spouse just as I do for every holiday. But I will never forget our first Valentine's Day apart or that first tearful five minute phone call.
More from food