As the blog slowly winds down to the 365th day, thoughts of the last year have been slowly swirling through my head. Every deployment, every single one, there were moments when in anguish I thought to myself that I couldn’t bear another day, that I couldn’t possibly make it to the end. But to what end? Because as surely as those who’ve lost loved ones in any circumstance know, the sun will set on our day, and before long tomorrow is ushered in, and somehow, we’re still standing. And facing whatever it was that we thought we couldn’t possibly bear.

I don’t make a fuss of the fact that we’ve done this before, and that in reality, at some point, there surely will be another again. But sometimes, the weight of the matter bears down on me, and even after, even when we’re on the other side of the fence, looking in, the emotions can rush through me and leave me breathless. And I wonder yet again, how did I do that? Of course, a good attitude, crazy amounts of love and support, amazing friends and family are key. But at the end of the day there’s something in us that dictates how the story goes. Whether or not the weight of it all will crush us or wether we’ll be able to grow stronger as a result.

The other day, as we dropped off Brooks’s uniform to be altered, the lady behind the counter marveled at how many combat stripe thingys (love how I know what they’re called after ten years!) she had to sew on. She looked at Brooks, looked at his years in service, and then looked at us. She simply said, “Poor family,” slowly shaking her head. And it’s moments like that, little unobtrusive, spur of the moment, shouldn’t mean anything moments that take me back to that first day alone, or the moment we watch him walk away from us, or the calls that even through the distance, even unspoken, we both know how much this is utterly sucking, right now.

As long as the year was, it surely went by quickly (on this side of the fence). When we were going through it it was slow at times. Maddeningly slow. But most days we kept so busy that days melded into each other and it was with relief that I would watch one week melt into the other, one month finally giving way to another. And if I must bear it again, as so many do, I’ll do so again. With grace, and strength, and loads of love thrown in for good measure.