Q was deployed for 353 days.
11 1/2 months.
He missed his birthday, my birthday, our anniversary, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and Valentine's Day.
There were times we didn't talk for 2 weeks and others when we talked multiple times a day.
We fought. I cried. A lot. We had to redefine our relationship. We were no longer just long distance. We were long distance and one of us was putting their life on the line every day and I literally did not know how to deal with it. I complained that he didn't call. He complained that I didn't understand. I felt left of his world and he felt left out of mine. As much as I wanted to know about what he was doing, I actually didn't want to know. My way of processing Q being at war was to pretend he wasn't.
My coping mechanisms? Spend more time with friends and family. Work more. Don't think about war or guns or killing. He got upset that I kept living my life without him. I was upset he wasn't living his life by my side.
This year was the hardest year of my life. My best friend, support system, and the person I call for every little problem was not there. I needed to grow up. I had to be less selfish. I had to put someone else before me. I had to solve problems on my own. I had to face reality and not hide from it.
The week before Q got home, I was scared. Had we both become different people during the time apart? Would he step off the plane and still be madly in love with me? Would I look into his eyes and know he was still my one?
But one hug, one whisper of "I love you," one kiss sealed it. Every bad feeling washed away and was replaced with that "oh yes, this is so right and this is what I've been waiting for" feeling. Holding his hand, looking into his eyes, kissing him made it right.
We both learned a lot about ourselves during the year we spent apart. We each found things in ourselves that made us stronger and better people. We both became better partners to each other. We listen more, we understand more, we are more compassionate towards the other. We know that our time together is scared and should not be wasted fighting. We treasure each moment we have. We learn to love the little things even more. We appreciate each other.
There will be more deployments. There will be more months apart. But if we both come out of those years like we did this one, I can only imagine our relationship growing stronger each time.