Stormy asked me how I dealt with being award from my Ward. And I didn't really know how to answer that, because I don't always feel like I am as successful as I hoped to be. But there are things I do, to keep me sane. I carry a pad around with me, and I write, all the little details of our day. It helps us, the boys and I, to keep him present. We celebrated his birthday, went out to dinner, had a cake with his name on it, the boys blew out the candles. We took pictures to send. As much as it helps us to keep him present in our lives, I imagine it helps him to know that he is important enough to us that we do it, and he doesn't miss any little thing. I want him to know everything (yes, even if I am not shown in the very best light...yes, if I feel widgy or whiny, I tell him, he'll deal with it when he gets back - that's a relief for me, and perhaps for him, too... yes even when I break a rule - he's not here, but he's still my authority, and I owe him my honesty above all else.)
Know that his schedule underway is arduous. He doesn't work the same hours any two days. He has about 5 hours during which he can sleep, read, write, whatever he likes. So the letters from him are not as prodigious as they are from here. But I take those letters and I read them over and over, ever day. They carry his magic. They strengthen his presence in my mind. I always feel him. Sometimes my own emotions may threaten to drown him out. But those letters, they ground me, just like he does. I did a stupid thing, and I don't know why. I thought, maybe - and I acknowledge that I think too much sometimes - that if I read them too much they'd lose their magic. And I stopped reading them daily. And I started spinning like a crazy little battling top, bashing myself up against the walls of my own insecurities. When I gave in and read again, it was like slipping into a lovely, warm, comfortable embrace. The magic doesn't go away, it just gets stronger. So to Stormy, maybe ask Ogre to write a line or two when he can, or even an email (that's a luxury Ward doesn't have, unfortunately). And read them, they help.
But maybe the most important thing I do is remember why I love this man. And we have had this discussion. "What if I left the Navy, would you think less of me?" - "How could I possibly think less of you, love? You are a good and honorable man. That won't change if you take off that uniform. You make that uniform mean something. It lends nothing to you. You lend it, and the Navy that it represents, your nobility, your strength, you honor, your character. But could you be happy? This was a choice you made, and I wouldn't have you change it for me." - "I made the choice years ago, when I was a different man, when I was a single man and now I have a family to consider."
He is upright and strong. He is committed and honorable. I can't begrudge the thing that takes him away from me, because it is part of who he is, and part of what has formed him. It fulfills a purpose for him - to be of service to a country that he holds dear. It has refined his skills as a leader. It has afforded him an opportunity to practice his compassion and his fairness. And countless people have benefited from knowing him. The ripples of his goodness spread to the far corners of the earth.
Before me and the boys he may have had different reasons for doing what he did. Now what he does is a means to an end, of building a structure of a secure life for us. He doesn't do it because he wants to be away from us. He does it because he has a commitment. He does it because it will give us firm footing.
I am trying hard to remember those things. I'm trying hard not to let that anger take root. When Ward walks off that boat, I want him to see my smile, I want him to see my love radiating out of that place like a homing beacon. I want him to know that I have felt him and his leadership and the structure of our lives, even in his physical absence. It's not an easy thing that we do. But if we do it well - well that's just one more reason to love us, one more reason to cherish us. I think, perhaps, that could just make us extraordinary.