3 Years Ago!!?

Such a beautiful picture, and yet – it’s painful for me to even look at. 

You know when you see a picture of someone a few months before a big tragedy and you’re like… “they had no idea…”? 

This was such a beautiful day. We’d waited 6 long months for daddy to return from the sea and we were SO excited for our life to finally begin together in Virginia. 

We had no idea. 

The most horrendous sea tour schedule of our lives (and I don’t throw that around lightly). Geno was home *maybe* 12 months (collectively) out of a total of 48? It was traumatic – for me, for our kids, and for Geno. I think we’re all still reeling in from the PTSD of it all and finding it hard to believe that he’s actually home and not leaving again anytime soon.

There’s so much that I’d go back and tell this Karissa if I could. I’d try to brace her for the sake of her psyche 😆… I’d tell her to sleep more, worry less, laugh with her children, spend more time in the sunshine… exercise (not because she overate yesterday)… but because it’s good for her SOUL. 

But then I’d venture to say that she wouldn’t be the WARRIOR that she is today. 

We’ve gotta go through tough shit in life – no two ways. And 99% of the time there’s nothing that anyone can say or do to prepare us. But military spouses… military kids, military friends and military families… these men, women and children are made from the finest of Carnegie steel. Not because they want to be, but because sometimes it’s necessary to simply SURVIVE.

No one hands you toughness when you assume these roles. Toughness is birthed from years and years of holding the world on your shoulders when it’s all you can do to get out of bed. Toughness is birthed from the most paralyzing loneliness, from making the best friends of your life and then being ripped away from them again and again, from putting everyone’s needs above your own and the fear of falling asleep each night praying for your loved one’s life (f’real).

It’s a fear that changes you. And it’s normalized to the degree that you really can’t imagine your life any other way? It’s NOT normal to be calm. It’s NOT normal when the waters aren’t rocky. Normal is stressed. Normal is freaked out. Normal is EXHAUSTED. 

It’s a weird way to live. And yet, it’s all we know.

One foot in front of the other. 

The Karissa in this picture has no freaking clue what awaits her… but she wouldn’t be the Karissa she is today if she didn’t endure it. Perhaps she wouldn’t appreciate her husband as much? Maybe she wouldn’t recognize and be inspired by the resilience of her children as much? Appreciate and recognize how hard her family works to keep her spirits up when she’s doing it all alone? The sacredness of soul mates + friendship? The beauty of life? 

I’m so proud of the woman in this picture. She inspires me to see and appreciate the good in the world – and the GREATNESS inside herself 

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