A Note of Gratitude to my Non-Military Friends: You Don’t Have to “Get It” to Get Me

Dear Non-Military Friends,

The number of holiday cards we receive is getting smaller. I know there are a lot of factors contributing to this – including the fact that in the first seven years of my husband’s military career, we moved four times. But regardless of how many times my address has changed, your cards show up in my mailbox each December without fail. Thank you for that.

Traveling with infants and toddlers is not for the faint of heart. And yet – when the Air Force decided to send my family to Japan, you hopped on planes with your babies so we could spend a weekend together, meeting each other’s kids and making memories before being separated for three years. Thank you for that.

Thank you for listening when I vented about the realities of deployment: being apart from my spouse and alone with my kids for six months. Thank you for acknowledging the difficult parts of this life, even when it is so different from your own. Thank you for asking questions and showing interest. Those might seem like basic tenets of friendship, but the older I get, the more I am convinced that true, faithful friends are quite rare.

Thank you for navigating different time zones to stay in touch. For sending letters and care packages when I am in a lonely season with no local friends. For opening your homes to my family every time we move across the country with our traveling circus. Thank you for sharing in my excitement as I look to a future outside of military life, while appreciating that, like all transitions, “it’s complicated.”

I’ve been blessed with several close friends who are also military spouses, and they have enriched my life in ways I didn’t know I needed. I love those friends dearly, and I also love you for knowing and loving me in a way that those newer friends cannot. Thank you for loving me in spite of who I was in college. Thank you for loving me as I’ve navigated crises of faith, unemployment, and two kids in diapers at once. Thank you for loving me as “the single friend,” then a wife, then a mother. 

When I can only share a few details of difficult situations because of OPSEC, thank you for simply responding with “I’ll be praying for you.” Thank you for the long-distance hugs and words of encouragement. 

When life as a military spouse has caused me to become weary or discouraged, you are a safe space and a soft place to land during the most challenging times. 

Thank you, friends. I love you.

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