On Tuesday I flew from Richmond to Charlotte to Pensacola and then drove the two and a half hours to Fort Rucker, Alabama, where I waited, anxiously, to see my husband for the first time in 46 days. He was released, we texted, found a meeting point and when his car pulled up next to my rental (a Prius, natch), I burst into tears.
He climbed into my car and I stared at him, teary eyed and breathless and we hugged across the center console. I buried my face in his neck, breathing it all in, reveling in the first bits of physical contact I’d had with my husband and best friend in six and a half weeks and dripping tears onto his collar.
We’d only spoken four times in the past five and a half weeks, since he started Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS). He’d been forced to turn in his phone back at the end of June and it wasn’t until three and a half weeks later that he’d gotten his first phone call.There was so much to say, so much to catch up on, but in that moment – that first moment – all I could do was cry and nuzzle my face further into his neck.
That night there was a reception, a chance for family members to meet the Warrant Officers who had been responsible for our Candidates for the past several weeks. I got to meet Andrew’s roommates, his Training, Advising and Counseling (TAC) Officers and had an ample amount of time to stand around awkwardly in a dress and heels. For the first time in our four and a half years of marriage, I stood next to Andrew at a military event as his wife, not his fellow Soldier. I felt like I was incognito, undercover in my pearls and heels, disguised by my sock bun.
He got an overnight pass on Tuesday, but had to back at work my 5am on Wednesday in order to prepare for his 10am graduation.
I donned my dress uniform, the one I only wear once a year or so, and returned the more familiar role of wife and Soldier.
Andrew raised his right hand, again, and pledged allegiance to America and the state of Virginia, so help him God, and then his name was called and up I went to pin new rank on him, the rank of Warrant Officer, and just like that the Staff Sergeant I used to be married to turned into a Warrant Officer.
I saluted him, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
I returned to my seat and looked at him, smiling as tears filled my eyes. I can’t express how proud of him I am, how in love with him I am, how lucky I feel to be able to call him my husband. He’s amazing, really. He’s capable of anything he puts his mind to. He’s wanted this for years and he’s doing it now and this accomplishment, this move to become a Warrant Officer, is a first in a whole list of accomplishments that I can’t wait to celebrate with him. I am so lucky, so, so, so incredibly lucky to have found him, to have had the sense to marry him and to have been able to call him mine for all of these years.
I looked at him as we drove back to the hotel to change and again, for maybe the one millionth time since we got married four and a half years ago, I fell in love with him.