I know dual status military couples are not all too uncommon of an occurrence; however, a slightly rarer situation is when a partner joins the military while their significant other is currently deployed.
I was pretty down and out when Foster left for Iraq. Just like any other military wife or girlfriend, I didn’t want to get out of bed some days; I let daily chores and even school start to slip. The bad days were outweighing the good. I decided I had to do something to make the next nine months go faster, and get me motivated to finish college and get in shape. So, I decided to join the Army. At first I thought is was a great idea. Not only would I be smoking hot by the time Foster got back from overseas, but I would have a little extra money in the bank from my bonus, could pay off some debt, time would fly by, and before I would know it, Foster would be home!
I arrived at Fort Jackson in May, and the timing of my training would get me home exactly two weeks before Foster would fly home; giving me just enough time to get settled back in. When I arrived at Fort Jackson, and my cell phone was taken away from me, I was in complete shock. I had been told, which I am sure more than one recruit has been told, by my recruiter that Fort Jackson was called “relaxin Jackson” for a reason, and we would have our cell phones all through Basic. That was a LIE!
Now I was stuck without any form of communication with Foster. The only way I could talk to him is if he called me! There was no way for him to call me on the payphones, and I had no way of letting him know when I would be calling my mom, in which case he could have called her and we could have done some speaker phone talking. We were only given 3 phone calls, and were never told when we would get them.
I quickly came to the realization that Foster and I would have to communicate and further our relationship through written letters. I “sucked it up and drove on”. If my grandparents could endure two whole years of writing letters to each other while my grandfather was fighting in WWII, then Foster and I could write letters for 60 days.
I made sure to write him every single day. If I had to sneak and write them while on the toilet, on fire guard, or pretending to take notes in our daily classes, I made sure he got a letter. I waited and waited and waited for a response from him. Three whole weeks went by, and I had yet to receive a letter from him. I started to get worried. I thought maybe he had decided to break up with me while I was at Basic. I watched fellow soldiers’ relationships crumble in those three weeks. Two people were actually issued divorce papers while in Basic, and numerous more received “Dear John” letters. I cried myself to sleep each night that third week. I was convinced he had decided to call it quits.
On Monday of the fourth week my name was finally called at mail call, THIRTEEN times. Not only had all of my family members written me, but six very thick envelopes showed up in my pile. I almost cried when I realized the return address was that of his camp. We weren’t allowed to read the letters until we were released for the evening, so I impatiently waited to rip into them.
When I got back to my bunk I ignored all my other letters and went straight for Foster’s. The first letter explained that he would write me at least a three word letter every day. If he didn’t have time to write a whole letter, he would at least say “I Love You” and send it. However, he was going to mail 5-7 letters in one envelope because he knew I would have to do pushups each time I got a letter. (This was true, the night I got the 13 letters, I had to do 65 pushups, but I was THRILLED to do them!)
After that, letters came like clockwork. At least once every week I would get that thick envelope of letters that would keep me busy for an hour and grinning for a week. I cherished every one of them. When we both arrived home, I came to find out that Foster kept every one of the letters I wrote to him. So, in order to give our kids and grandkids the pleasure of reading the letters we wrote, I have stored them in a leather bound book with paper protectors.
The longest sixty days of my life will forever be with us. I just hope they enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed reading my grandparent’s letters.