By Crystal Brockman

As I sit here and write this, it has been a total of 335 days since my husband David boarded a plane at the Bluegrass Airport, kissed and hugged me good-bye and traveled thousands of miles to work on helicopters in Afghanistan. The span of eleven years we spent with each other was torn apart by a decision we made together, not realizing how truly difficult it would be. When he left, I knew I would miss him. But at the time, I was working a full-time job and carrying a full load of classes at school, so I thought I’d be so busy the time would fly by. I would be responsible for paying bills, taking care of our vehicles (which was always his job to do) and housework. If something broke in the apartment, I would be the one to call the landlord or fix it myself.

Last winter, I freaked out when I struck a van in his truck during a snowstorm. Knowing what to do when it happened was not the problem. I just needed to hear him say to me that it was going to be all right. But he wasn’t there.

He wasn’t here for New Year’s Eve, which I spent drinking with my friend and her husband. Watching them kiss when the clock struck midnight was gut-wrenching because I knew my husband was overseas during wartime with a bunch of people he didn’t know.

He wasn’t here for my 30th birthday, which is supposed to be a huge thing.

He wasn’t here when a friend’s 8-year-old daughter was run over by a van and she spent a week in ICU. I had to tell my husband over the phone that this little girl was fighting for her life while he was stuck in a desert with no one around to tell him everything was going to be all right.

I look at how he is living over there-he’s a military contractor-and I can’t imagine what life is like for a soldier who actually goes off base into the middle of all that hell. A soldier who is armed and taught to kill when necessary. A soldier who has to see all that death and destruction, witnessing the true pain of war, and still try to stay sane. So I cannot truly imagine what a soldier goes through. But I do know what it is like for a wife to have her loved one stuck in a warzone.

My husband may not be in the middle of it like a soldier, but he is not entirely safe either.

We did not know the last 335 days were going to be this difficult. But through all this, we have managed to remain positive, at least to the outside world. We are grateful for each other (I swear, I’m not trying to get mushy here). My husband has sacrificed for me-living in a tent in the middle of a warzone, working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, smelling burnt trash and human feces-to better our financial life so that we can escape the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck.

On Halloween of this year, instead of dressing up and handing out candy, I will be driving to the Bluegrass Airport to pick up my husband. He will finally be home. When that day comes, all the moments that my husband missed, all the times that I wished he were here with me and all the tears that I shed will be gone.

Because I know now that if a job opportunity comes to him again that would require him to spend most of his time away from me, I will have an informed answer: Hell no.