The Boy and I did quite a bit of prepping for Valentine’s Day related activities today, which made me contemplate that this year in particular I wouldn’t be able to celebrate with my own Valentine – not a letter, not a care package, not a date, nothing. Usually, even if he is deployed, we’re at the point in the deployment where packages and letters are freely flowing; not so this time. Rather than become melancholy over what won’t be, I’m focusing on what will be.

I decided, even before Brooks left, that I was going to celebrate the friendships that sustain me and enrich my life, in so many ways. I’ve been blessed to always have a “Battle Buddy” during deployments. A deployment battle buddy is similar in a lot of respects to the battle buddies our soldier’s have : they look out for us, keep us company, tell us when to suck it up and carry on, are not judgmental, always uplifting and never enabling. I think that last bit is key, because we are all bound to have days during deployments when we want to stay in our jammies, shut the windows and doors, and just be straight sad and melancholy. Sometimes we need that, but then again, you can take the jammies-cry-into-your-coffee (in my world – coke) shut-the-windows-and-the-world-day a little too far. And your Battle Buddy should be able to snap you out of it because too much of that is just that, too much.

So right after Christmas, no joke, when Hobby Lobby was already putting out Valentine’s themed merchandise, I stocked up on the cutest little boxes in which I planned to put home baked muffins. One, the boxes were too cute. And two, I like to bake. I thought it was the perfect combination. I figured that although my number one Valentine would be half way around the world I would be celebrating the Day of Love by focusing on the friendships that I hold near and dear to my heart. Because quite honestly, when the soldiers are away, and you are so far from your family, your friends become your family. They check up on you when you’re sick, lend a listening ear when needed, provide much needed company and comfort when emotionally you are just feeling low, and understand exactly what you are feeling and needing. They get it. They don’t need apologies when in the middle of a phone call you leave them on hold for thirty minutes because your husband called on the other line.  They don’t need explanations when you want to pull your hair out after single parenting for eight or nine months and those last few months still seem so far out of reach. And best of all, when your soldier comes home and you literally drop off the face of the earth, they don’t take it personally. They understand that time with our husbands are limited and so very precious. They rejoice in homecomings with you and are always ready, always willing, and always caring.

I’ve been blessed with some amazing friendships these last nine years as a military spouse. I miss some of my dear friends who have moved on with different assignments. I think of them often and feel utterly blessed to have had them in my life. And I love that we are always ready to pick up our friendships exactly where they left off.

So this Valentine’s Day I am baking some delicious muffins for some local friends. And when my beau returns we’ll celebrate in our own way, retroactively, and it will be a special day, nonetheless.