I’ve survived the first five weeks of my twelve-week separation from Ben. Thankfully, through this time I’ve been able to experience strength and a sense of calm beyond my expectation. Writing letters to him daily has served as a sort of therapy, although it often feels like I am talking to the empty walls of my apartment. Given his schedule and tasks at hand, he is not able to respond often or at length. Hearing his voice over the weekend was such an encouragement – finally some real-time, immediate-response conversation! How I’ve missed his presence in my life.
The demands of OCS are extremely high; of the 50 that started in Ben’s class, approximately half remain at this point. He passed a few important tests and inspections last week, which has allowed him to progress. The probability of successful completion is much higher at this point. The daily duties and responsibilities continue to increase; this month will have a greater focus on “academics”, in addition to the physical training and indoctrination. Ben will take a series of final exams at the end of April, which serve as another monumental hurdle in this process. All of this will culminate in a wonderful celebration at his graduation on May 28th. The ever-optimist, I made my arrangements this past week for his graduation. What an encouragement to be putting these plans in place – the days leading up to the event will probably be slow, but the weeks pass quickly. Soon I’ll be packing sundresses and sandals for a weekend in Newport. It’ll be me…and hundreds of men in uniform (Navy dress whites – my favorite!). Of course, I’ll be focusing my attention on a very special man in uniform. And I will probably hold on to him the entire time.
Life has been relatively quiet in his absence. My days have become fairly predictable – work, train for the half-marathon, cook/eat, sleep, wake up a bit exhausted and do it all over again. I’ve really missed having someone here to talk to, someone who cared about the mundane details of my day, someone to help me through, someone to hug me and tell me they love me. Ben understands me in a beautiful, intimate way – he knows all too well the little quirks, tendencies, struggles, needs and abilities that make me the ravishing creature that I am. I’ve been blessed with wonderful people in my life, but many of them have spouses/children, demanding schedules, aren’t located within reach, don’t know me as well, etc. In all, I’ve felt pretty alone in this journey. And that’s okay. I’ve been made stronger by my past and am generally independent by nature, and I trust that this time is being used to challenge me, grow me and prepare me for what is ahead. These past few weeks have made me profoundly aware of the impact that Ben has had on my life, and the blessing he is to me. Now that he is in my life, I can’t imagine my life without him – and I don’t want to.
As we approach the almost-halfway point, I’m thankful for how this experience has affected me. I’ve come to see things I may have taken for granted at times, and now I appreciate them in a new way. I more deeply understand the significance and sacrifice of military members and their families. I’ve felt completely powerless, yet at peace and prepared for what is to come. I miss the simple moments spent with Ben – cooking together, reading the newspaper, walking by the river hand-in-hand (yes, I realize those examples make us sound like we’re 70. don’t judge.). I’ve taken the time to restore some old habits of mine. I am thankful for those who understand what I’m going through, and the advice and encouragement they provide. And most of all, I’m thankful for the peace that transcends all understanding.