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The United States Marine Corps owns my husband. He made this honorable sacrifice when we were 18 and still new to life. As his wife, I’ve stood behind him for five years and seven months. In the time John has been in Afghanistan, I have graduated college and found an amazing job as a teacher in our hometown, fifty minutes from an Air Force base. He knew he would be deployed, so he made an effort to keep me home near my family.

As a military wife, I know that I come second to the United States government. I have never complained, given ultimatums, or threatened him about his service to our country. It just wouldn’t be fair. It is our way of life. He gets papers, and I wait and hope he returns to me alive.

During stolen moments together over Skype, I keep a positive attitude and make sure I have stories to make him laugh again, even if it is only for fleeting seconds. I haven’t washed his pillow since he left. I spritz his cologne daily as a reminder of his scent. The days without him are impossible, but the nights after his return are so amazing our marriage just grows stronger.

John is coming home tonight, which will break my evening ritual of crying myself to sleep. He has been stateside for a month but hasn’t landed in our city, which has driven me absolutely mad. I ache to feel his touch, to smell his neck and to lace my fingers through the back of his hair. I want to feel him everywhere.

Earlier today I paced through the house and cleaned, dusting every inch of dirt that could have possibly been left from the year. The bedding, including his pillowcase, has been washed in lavender and misted in sandlewood. Everything is new again.

I’ve prepared a simple dinner of salmon, steamed vegetables, and rice. For dessert, I’ve made homemade red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, his favorite. A bottle of Moscoto chills in the ice bucket. Two empty crystal glasses stand waiting. The candle flames dance with joy. John is coming home.

I hear the car door shut, and I feel his presence. Each footstep puts my senses on full alert. My heart plays a drum line in my chest, and my body responds in anticipation. The jingle of his keys gives added depth to my orchestra of emotions.

My dreams of this night finally take center stage. The handle turns, the door opens quietly, and I see him. I take a deep breath and try to maintain my balance as he stands before me. I take off in a graceful sprint toward the man I have missed for over a year and leap high into his arms. His bags drop to the ground as his arms wrap completely around me like a warm blanket. My long, thin legs slowly enclose his waist.

The emotions open the floodgates from my eyes, and I begin to cry. “I’ve missed you,” he whispers into my ear, still holding me so close I can feel his heart race against my chest. I can’t speak. I can only be right here, in this moment. Nothing else makes sense. I take a deep breath, inhaling every piece of John that I can.

John gives me a soft, gentle kiss. I could drink him in and still need more. I love everything about this man. I lace my fingers through his hair at the back of his head. He doesn’t bother putting me down. He just follows the candlelight into the bedroom that I have prepared so carefully.

Written by: Rachel Sorensen