A Future Military Wife’s Notes on Separation

Being separated from the one you love is always hard to bear.  When that separation is premised on a journey into war, the emotions are magnified and compounded with fear.

In the weeks leading up to our separation, I was very nervous.  Our relationship was so new.  Even though our love was strong, I couldn’t predict our outcome.  I knew that I wanted to make it work, so I figured the best thing I could do was block out any fear or insecurity.  I must live every moment to the fullest and spend every moment with him as if it were my last.

As the day approached it was hard not to think about it.  I knew some of what Charleston had been through in his first deployment.  I was terrified of what he would go through this time.  I had one reassurance.  I knew he was fearless and would stop at nothing to accomplish the mission or to protect his men.  Later, I learned the extent of what that meant.  I can only be thankful for my ignorance at the time.

The night before he left was very special.  The timing was unfortunate.  I was in the middle of a very demanding work schedule and was unable to take time off.  Even though I was so tired when I got to Charleston’s house that night, I was beaming with energy.  We went to a restaurant and just talked and laughed for hours.  That night is an incredibly positive memory and set the tone for a hopeful, as opposed to a desolate goodbye.

Saying goodbye to the love of your life, knowing they will be gone for months, with minimal communication, and living in a constant fear for their life, is a feeling that cannot be put into words.  Controlling the emotions takes a tremendous amount of faith.  When Charleston left I was devastated, but I knew that he would be okay, that this love was more than a two-month fling.  I truly believed that he would return and we would be together.

To keep the love alive during our separation, we both had relied on our faith.  I believed in our love knowing it was the kind that would last forever.  It was important to hold on to this faith, especially during times when there was no communication.  If I let my mind think the worst it would bring down my spirits and lessen my resolve.  If I was negative or fearful, I might portray these emotions to Charleston and weaken his faith.  I knew that I couldn’t do that.  He needed the hope and faith to inspire him, to keep him safe.  The most important thing that I could do for him was to be positive and reassuring.

I had to be strong and selfless in order to protect what we had made for ourselves.  I wanted to provide Charleston with a place he could go to escape the daily realities that he faced.  A place that was safe and honest, and full of warmth and love.  In this world we truly got to know one another.

Everyday of a separation is a challenge.  Never knowing when you will hear from him, never really knowing if he is okay.  Some people read or listen to the news religiously to find some sense of reassurance.  I couldn’t listen or read.  Everything I heard filled me with wonder and dread.  Instead, I went about my life as usual.  I spent a lot of time praying, and writing.  I felt closest when I was writing or reading what he had written to me.  I lived for his emails and letters or even the occasional phone calls, which most often came in the middle of the night.  Every communication was a blessing.  I treasured every word. I read and re-read letters and poetry that he sent to me.  I kept some of my favorites in my nightstand and would read them at night before I went to sleep.

We built a foundation through these letters.  And for me, I truly found myself. Charleston asked many questions that I could not easily answer.  He asked tough questions about life and relationships, and showed me the significance of deciding what was truly important.  I had never felt that someone cared so much for me to want to know the deep-seeded truth of whom I was.  It was sometimes uncomfortable and I was initially resistant, but I felt that I owed it to him and myself to be honest in all regards.  I had to take the time to really think about answers to the questions that were asked.  This was a challenge I had not anticipated but it was one of the most important aspects of our separation.

Being reunited is one of the most powerful and overwhelming experiences of a lifetime.  A joy comes over you that flows through your whole body and makes you feel like you will burst.  It is hard to contain the emotion and it takes some time for the reality to sink in.  When Charleston and I were reunited I literally fainted in anticipation.  Luckily, I came to in time for our meeting.  I could see him before he saw me, and as I walked toward him it felt like it took an eternity to get there.  When our eyes finally locked it was as if this huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and I just melted in his arms.  I don’t know how long we remained but I could have stayed in that embrace.  It was a magical moment that I cherish.

It is never favorable to be separated from your love, though the realities of life often require it.  Charleston and my love for him truly blossomed during this time.  I don’t know if our relationship would be the same without that time apart.  Today, I couldn’t be happier.  A separation can strengthen or tear apart a relationship.  We were lucky that we were made stronger and I wouldn’t change any of it.

___________________________________________

Talle Gilmore is the fiancee of   Charleston Malkemus , a Captain in the United States Marine Corps who served two tours in Iraq. Malkemus has just published a touching collection of his heartfelt love letters he wrote to his lovewhile serving in Iraq – CharlleThe Making of a Real True Love Story. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and now lives with Talle, his future wife – and the love of his life – in south Florida.

For more information on Talle and Charleston’s  epic romance, visit their website: www.charlle.com/book

You can read Charleston’s article here.