Sometimes you have to be strong for the people you love, no matter how much it hurts you.
I had known from the moment I agreed to be his girlfriend that he would be leaving the town we live in to move across the country to pursue his dreams of being in the military and joining the Air Force. I had known it for months, but I never expected the day to come, even though I knew it would eventually.
May 23rd, 2016 was the day he signed his paperwork to confirm his place in the military. I sat next to him while he signed it, and it took everything in me to hold back my tears and smile and tell him how proud I was of him. And I was, and still am proud of him, just seeing him sign that paperwork cracked my heart open, because I knew the man I loved, my soulmate, my forever was going to be leaving.
I knew I had to savor every precious moment that I was with him.
I was so torn. Part of me wanted to cry and shout and scream and make him stay, but I knew I couldn’t, that’s not who I am. I want him to follow his passion, his dream that he’s had since he was a small boy. I want him to make something of himself. I want him to be proud of himself and love himself. So I had to suck my emotions up and put on a brave face. He was so excited, so thrilled to be joining the military that I don’t think he saw the pain and hurt in my eyes, and in a way, I’m glad. I never wanted him to doubt his decision. I knew that if I showed the slightest amount of brokenness, he would quit before he started to stay with me.
We decided to take a vacation together into the mountains, just the two of us. We drove three or four hours, blasting our favorite music, singing together, holding hands, kissing each other at every red light and stop sign. It was almost like he wasn’t going to leave, it had completely gone from our minds.
We drove slowly as we entered the mountains just so we could take our time to look at the beautiful scenery around us.
I don’t think he noticed, but I was looking at him more than what was surrounding us, I thought he was the most beautiful thing in sight.
It took us a while, but eventually we found our hotel and checked in, before going to find our room.
It was around lunch time and we decided to make our way to The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company (Nathan is a huge beer nerd). Just before we set foot in the building his phone rang. He picked it up and spoke excitedly. It was a quick call and he was babbling so fast I could barely understand him.
This was the call I had been dreading. It was his starting date for the military. He was to leave on August 1st 2016, and it was currently July 22nd 2016.
He jumped up and down and hugged me and he was crying with happiness. I just felt my heart crumple into nothing and cried with him, but for different reasons, though I don’t think he knew that.
We entered the brewery and sat down and ordered some beer. He couldn’t stop smiling, and I smiled with him, even though my body and soul was hurting from heartbreak. We had lunch and a few beers, and my heart just kept crumbling down deeper inside my body.
We spent the day walking around the village and playing Pokemon Go. I held his hand so tightly I’m sure I left indents on his hands. I thought the tighter I held him, he wouldn’t be able to leave (dumb thought process I know, but I was sad). We looked in all these strange little shops and we came across a small jewelry and crystal shop. We went inside and I spotted a ring. It was a typical goth ring only it was made out of parts of mountain and hand carved. I fell in love with it instantly and kept leaving to look around but I always went back to it.
I went to look at the ring one last time, and before I knew it Nathan took my hand and took me outside. He had the ring! At first I thought he had stolen it, but then I saw the receipt. I was not expecting anything like that to happen.
He sat me down on a bench next to some beautiful flowers and placed the ring on my finger. Don’t get too excited people, it’s not an engagement ring, it was a promise ring. As he slid this big piece of skull shaped mountain onto my finger he looked me in the eyes and made a bunch of promises to me.
I still wear it every day.
I tried my hardest to push the thoughts of him leaving in a few short weeks out of my head. We spend the week doing all sorts of things. We went back to the hotel every evening to get ready together for fancy dinners. We danced together. We went to see some stunning sights. We ate amazing food throughout the day. But most (and best) of all, we just existed together, and that was really what we both wanted.
We continued our vacation together, happy to just be with one another. But as each day went by, I could see him getting more excited while I was getting more anxious and depressed.
I took as many photos as I could, capturing our moments together. Capturing us smiling together and laughing together. I also managed to capture the love we hold for each other, the way we look at each other as if nothing else is around us, and we are the only ones to exist in the world.
The trip was over quickly, and the drive home was long. Nathan napped while I drove and cried, not wanting to reach home. I wanted to continue driving until we reached the ends of the Earth together. I knew as soon as we got home, it would only be a matter of days before he left.
After what seemed like years and seconds at the same time, we reached home. I calmed myself down before gently waking him up. My heart kept falling into my soul, cracking as it went.
Each day that went by, my anxiety and depression grew, while his excitement expanded like a balloon. I would sit and talk with him each day while he packed up his belongings. His room slowly became empty, almost as if he had never been there in the first place. It killed me inside.
The last full day we had together, we wanted to do something. There was a massive Pokemon Go event in the city, and we made our way there. We sat on the ground, holding each other next to a Pokestop. We helped each other catch Pokemon, and when we caught one we celebrated by kissing each other. In a strange and nerdy way, it was quite magical.
About 5 hours later, our phones had died and we were sweating from the suns heat, so we headed home. It was July 31st 2016 and tomorrow morning he would get on a plane to move to the military base in Montreal. This was the last photo we took together.
The next morning he came over to my house to say goodbye to my parents (and my dogs) before I took him to the airport. I couldn’t believe this day had arrived so quickly. It had pretty much jumped out of the dark and was suffocating me in my own emotions.
The drive to the airport was silent. We didn’t know when we would see each other again. We sat in the car holding hands, while tears rolled down my face. We got to the airport and I stayed next to him right up until the last moment. We held each other and cried together. We kissed through tears and strange crying noises.
As he walked away, he kept looking back, we were both still crying but I couldn’t walk away until he was completely out of view. What was left of my broken heart shattered like glass into millions of tiny shards, yet at the same time I felt it love harder than it ever had. I had to learn to be strong, I had to learn to be alone. This was all new and strange to me.
I’m writing this a year later, we have seen each other twice in that time, once for four days, the other time was for a month. We talk almost every day, and I will admit, over time it’s gotten easier to have a long distance relationship.
To me, Nathan is the only man I want to be with. He is who I want to marry, spend my life with, raise children with. To me, he is worth the waiting and the heartbreak and the distance. I will wait for him to come home. I will do everything I can to keep this relationship going. I need him in my life. I’m in love with him, and a love this strong is worth the battle. A love this deep is worth the ups and downs. A love like ours is unique, and more precious than the rarest of diamonds.