Monday, 29 August 2011


So today marks the last day of H's three week summer leave. In roughly seven months he will be leaving for Afghanistan. It was this time before his last tour that we met, seven months before he left. So, last time we were wooing each other, we were in the honeymoon period. This time we are well established, we're married, we have a gorgeous son. Last time I had J, but our relationship was mainly just H and I. Right now my mind is pickled as to how I feel about H's next tour. Now his summer leave is over it's time for him to train himself (or for the army to train him) into a killing machine. I feel like this time around there will be no wooing, I'm going to be put on a shelf and be picked up when I'm needed for a quick reality fix. Let's hope my feelings are wrong.

I understand that I'm not only married to H, I'm married to the army too. However I do not want the both to merge when it comes to my relationship, I am married to H not an Action Man.

This leave has been a different one. It has been great to see H with the children, there were Sergeant Major moments, but when I see the three of them together my heart aches. The children get used to him being home then he disappears again. Poof! Like a fairy God mother in a pantomime, "He's behind you" - oh no wait, he was, now he's gone.
If I ask T where Daddy is, his response is "Daddy gone, out the door".

As for H and I this leave, it has been very weird. The first week was lovely, but it quickly turns into that statement you hear so often from people who have been on holiday - "A week is too short, two weeks is too long". My oh my, this leave was three weeks. The amount of times I prayed for patience and strength. I found it very hard to adjust to having someone in the house every day, someone who doesn't go to bed before you, therefore eliminating your chill down time. I use that time to watch mind numbing TV. A time when I can do nothing. No conversation.
The result of this made me feel a bit like a sardine, even though there were only two of us in the room. I felt a bit suffocated.
It seems that he just flutters into my life, and expects me to adjust straight away, then he just flutters away again. Like the moment a butterfly lands on you, you're all anxious and scared to move just in case it flies away. You heart pumps, then when the butterfly's gone, it is like you have never even been touched.

Whilst H is getting under my feet, all I keep thinking is that he's going back to work soon. Then when the day comes that he's off I hurt. I have wasted my time with trying to adjust. Why was it so hard this time? I never wanted to become on of "those" wives, the moaning ones. But I couldn't hold it in any more. I went to a friends house and just let it out. That really helped. We shared experiences, even though are partners are in different regiments. It accured to me how important it is to know people in the same boat as yourself. I went back to H feeling quite refreshed, but not yet adjusted.

When I feel like I'm finally adjusting, and my house is no longer a pit, and that pile of army things that came with him is sorted, he decides to flutter away. Why does it take so long to adjust? Did I actually adjust, or did I just relax at the thought of him going back to work? Who knows, but either way I hope it happens sooner with his next leave time. I need to prepare myself for his return a little better, none of my friends have to prepare for their husbands company! This life never gets easier, even when they're just in this country.

Sunday, 14 August 2011


My opinions change often with the option of whether to live in an Army house (pad) near my husbands base. It was never an issue before H & I got married, because it wasn't an option, and I had firm beliefs that it was a no-go option and I would never move.

I do however find it hard at times when I talk to the one friend I do have that lives in a pad. She talks about coffee mornings, and has the option to go on little trips provided by the battalion. I get nothing, I often wonder if the Welsh Guards even know I exist!

I often feel very alone living at home in Wales. The three girls I do talk to are now ex-army partners as their husbands/boyfriends have left the army following the battalions last deployment. I've started getting closer to one of the army girlfriends, but now her partner is leaving the army just before the battalions next tour.

The anticipation of H leaving for Afghanistan again is horrible, never mind the thought that this time I will be alone with no-one around me who actually truly understands. Sure I have my friends and my family, but will they be hurting when I'm hurting, will they understand the hurt? And then there are those moments when I have to bite my lip whilst I listen to them tell me that they know what I'm going through because they're husbands/boyfriends go away on holidays for a week and tell me how hard it is for them. All I hear is "blah blah blah". I have to hold back from screaming "ATLEAST YOU KNOW HE'S NOT GETTING SHOT AT". They compare the fact that they may die on the journey over on the plane. What? So H doesn't also go on a plane to get to AFGHANISTAN where he is also a target to be killed?! ARGH! I just smile and nod.

At least with fellow army wives I can say "I'm sorry, I'm not in the mood to be around company" and they will understand and not get offended. A lot of my friends no longer call or text me to see if I want to go out, or even to see if I want a coffee. They are the friends that don't understand and never will. I suppose I'm a little grateful for their lack of interest in our friendship, why do I want people like that in my life?

I am very blessed to have found life-long friendships in my church family. I can be myself with them and none of them judge me. They pop over just to see if I'm ok, and if I need any help. They sit and pray with me, they watch me cry, they watch my laugh. They may not understand what I'm going through, but they know how to make me feel that little bit better, especially when they come over with cake!

My family are ok at understanding, but they have their own lives to deal with. Having become an only child at the age of 14 I know that my mum is always there no matter what. She cooks for me when I'm low to ensure I eat, she takes the children out when I need a break, and every Monday she takes J to his karate lesson because I can't as T is in bed. But even to my mum I can put on a front, and smile when I'm dying inside. This is because I don't want to hurt her by seeing me cry. I know that sounds silly, but that's the way my mind works sometimes.

During H's last tour my good friend A was still an army wife. We often met up for lunch or dinner. We were both pregnant, so neither of us wanted to go to the pub and forget our situations. We would just waddle around! It was nice. This time around I will not have my fellow waddler, her husband is now working on civvy street. Yes she can relate and relive her experiences, but this tour will be a different experience to last, can I take her opinion as comforting? Time will see.

One reason it took me so long to up and leave J's father was due to loneliness. And then I started this life, a life full of loneliness. Fortunately it is also a life of pride. Had this life been with a "regular" guy I would've booted him out by now. Never home, out with the boys during the week, only seeing his children at weekends. I may have chosen to date a soldier, but it was a matter of weeks before I fell in love with him, it was not a conscious decision to live this life, it was a decision made by my heart.

My reason for not wanting to move into a pad is because I cannot bare the thought of moving my children from school to school everytime the battalion move. They will have no "proper" friends, and to me that way of life is not stable enough for a child. In those moments when I'm trying to persuade myself that it will be a fun life for the children I then remember where my husband is currently based. The surrounding area to my husbands camp is 100% not suitable for a woman who is often left on her own, never mind bringing up children there.

I live in hope that one day the army will recognise me as my husbands wife, and will involve me so I no longer feel on the outside of the circle. Army life is definitely a bubble.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


I woke up one Friday morning, realising that in just over a week I would have been a married woman for a year. Wow! Time goes so fast, I couldn't believe it. I sat there and thought "One year is Paper gift, right?! Divorce papers?". That made me chuckle. I didn't want to buy him paper, or a book, or even photographs. I pondered a while, then the perfect gift popped into my head, the gift required a trip into Cardiff. I knew which shop sold it as H and I had walked past and he'd commented on wanting to get it for his dad, even though I knew he wanted it for himself!

Penderyn Whisky. H has a history with this whisky, and you will now guess why he wanted to buy it for his dad. In H's youth his father had been given a rugby ball shaped bottle of Penderyn whisky. There were only ever 250 of these bottles made. His father had no intention of drinking it, but kept it on a shelf in the kitchen.
After a night out with the boys, H and a friend arrived home slightly tipsy (well probably extremely drunk, H has hollow legs!). They thought it would be a good idea to open and drink H's fathers whisky. They drank it all. I'm not sure what consequences this action created but I'm 100% sure H's dad wasn't very happy the next morning.

J was out with a friend, so I went into Cardiff with T on my own. The first place I went when I got into the city was the Welsh shop that sold the perfect gift. I headed straight for the whisky counter. The guy talked me through the gift boxes they sold, and whilst he was doing so T was shouting and pointing "Daddy, Daddy!". I looked over the man's shoulder who was serving me, and hanging on the wall in a dark wooden frame was a picture of a young boy wearing a bright red tunic. I scanned the picture, counting the buttons on the tunic. "That's not Daddy, he doesn't have 5 buttons". T looked at me and back at the picture. The man behind the counter said "Oh that's my nephew, he's a Grenadier Guard". I explained that my husband was a Welsh Guard and the man proceeded to ask if he'd ever been in Afghanistan. We spoke for a while, then he looked at me and said "His mother has said if he ever goes back it would kill her, too much stress. She was petrified whilst he was there". So many emotions flooded my head in waves. I smiled and responded with "Yes it is quite difficult, but you just have to accept it I guess". I paid for my purchase and left. This guy had me thinking, H and I had got married, and H had met Tomas, but it could've been so different. I was extremely blessed to have H in my life, and blessed to know that God is faithful and protected him whilst deployed. Talking to that guy also reminded me of the life I had chose. I know my decision was the right one, however hard it gets. Within the last year we have had our difficulties. The first year of marriage isn't all about holding hands and skipping through meadows.

Looking back on our year of Mr & Mrs is a strange one, what can I see that has changed? We still lived in the same house, I still only saw my husband at weekends. Life doesn't change.

I look into the future, into our next year and the things we will face. Another tour, Herrick 16. It loomed like a dark cloud, it crept into my mind every silent second. In work I would hear a song from his last tour and my eyes would fill up, the anxiety overwhelming. I tried to shake it off, but I let things in, and sometimes they overtake me. During H's last tour I was just his girlfriend/fiancée, this time around I was his wife, his next of kin. I have nightmares of uniformed men knocking at the door whilst I'm at work. This terrifies me. I loved him more than ever now, and in' just going to love him more when it's time to say goodbye for 7 months.
I do shut the thoughts to the back of my mind, but they lay dormant and sting me every now and again.

One thing that plays on my mind is the children, J has been through this before, at least I know he's my corner stone and keeps me stable. But this time T will be knowing, he will understand that his Daddy has been gone for a while. T was barely a year old when H went to Kenya for 6 weeks. It was hard. I redecorated the living room whilst he was gone, and it was leading up to Christmas.
I was the "single" woman lugging a Christmas tree through B & Q, I was the "single" woman squeezing the tree into my little Fiesta, and I was the "single" woman sawing off the end of the tree in the front garden to fit into our stand. I did all this with paint on my hands and clothes, as I had literally just completed the living room! I felt independent and strong, but I was still surgically attached to my mobile willing for it to ring. Whilst H was in Kenya I hardly heard a peep, I think he was in his third or fourth week before I received a phonecall, I sent him emails though (I got the address from a fellow Army wife).
When H was back in the UK I drove to his barracks to pick him up. The excitement was unbearable! I knew he would look sexy, all tanned. I turned into the barracks and stopped before the gate. The butterflies were ridiculous, I could feel my stomach doing somersaults. I caught a glimpse of a tall, thin, uniformed soldier. I stared. It was him! I jumped out of the car, and ran. I gripped him and squeezed. He smiled at me and we kissed. It may have only been 6 weeks without my man, but 6 weeks was enough with hardly any contact at all. I could count on one hand the amount of calls I'd received from him.
H was very excited to see the boys. He'd bought them presents. My dad was at the house looking after the boys, and I let him know when we were on our way home. It was late, and there was snow.
When we parked up my butterflies returned, I had no idea how T was going to react, or even if he'd remember his Dad. My father had kept him up so H could see him. We opened the door and I heard a squeal from the living room. T went crazy when he saw H. He remembered. He started running the length of the room, and head-butting the sofa. He jumped all over H, it was unbelievable, but lovely just the same.

I just pray that T remembers H after a longer period away, and I pray that it does not affect T in a negative way. It's a wait and see matter.

When I look back on my life with H I smile, when I look into our future I smile (even if it is sometimes forced). And right now, I look at H, I look at his perfectly formed lips, at his handsome eyes and I cherish it. I sometimes don't like the situations I find myself in, but when I remember why I'm doing them I smile. I do it all for him!

Thursday, 4 August 2011


I was brought up with God in my life. I went to Catholic primary and secondary school, also doing Performing Arts in a Catholic college (which I thought to be a wasted topic so dropped out after 8 months). I had been Christened, and followed this up with my Holy Communion. I did not go through with the Confirmation, at that age I was beginning to think "Why do I need yo' do these strict ceremonies to have a faith?!" and I rebelled a bit. I have never stopped believing in God, even if my faith has been a bit of a rollercoaster.

Whilst in Secondary school I attended mass every Friday, and my faith was apparent. Our priest was funny, he was rather young and used to play the banjo and sing a lot.

When my brother died, I did not go off the rails, or turn into an uncontrollable mess. I did however shut down a bit. If God was real why would he have let my brother do that to himself? If God was real why didn't he stop the pain I was feeling?

People treated me different after my brother died. I still wanted to be a teenager, why couldn't people just see that I was still me? I was still Kirsty! People did not need to smile that awkward smile whilst passing in the corridor. Just be normal, please!

Only weeks, maybe two months maximum, after my brother killed himself, I had a school tripped planned and booked to go to London. Just to be on the "safe side", my teachers thought it would be best if I and my roomy had a room (the only pupil room) on the same floor as them in the hotel. Why? I wasn't going to need them. I wasn't suddenly going to let everything out and open up to them!

I think my emotions and anxiety and depression became apparent one day at school, in a Welsh lesson. It was not my teachers fault, although I still wish he had looked up and seen me in his class before opening his mouth. He skimmed his eyes over all our miserable faces (not taking any of the faces in, otherwise he'd have realised that the next thing to come out of his mouth was not appropriate). He stood up, and trying to be a friendly teacher and be "cool", he started talking about the previous nights television programmes. His opening line was "Did anyone see that programme on prisons last night? It's crazy you know, even before they're settled into the room they get shown by other inmates how to tie the correct knot in order to hang themselves". All eyes on my table stared at me. I had no choice. I grabbed my bag, and ran out the door into the girls toilets. I heard my teacher gasp in horror as I walked out the door and he realised what he had just done.

After that I started having councelling with the schools priest. We never once sat and read the bible, and he never preached to me. But that was, maybe, the first time I saw God doing his thing through good people. That priest will never know how much he helped by just talking to me, and it's awful that I can't even remember his name. But I thank him for helping me through.

Upon leaving school I never followed God in any way. I was pregnant at the age of 17, and also rebelled a bit in my late teen/early twenties by going out and getting drunk at weekends.

As you've all read, I met my husband when I was 22. From leaving school until then I hadn't really given God a thought. I spoke to my brother, who I believed to be with God in Heaven, and I had attended a few services at a Spiritualist church in hope that my brother would give me a message.

It was time to be welcomed into my current church just before H was deployed for Afghanistan. It was a totally new experience for me. They sang and danced, and the speaker really spoke to me. Even though H would not be here to go with me every week, I took it upon myself to start going every Sunday, not only to see my sister-in-law but also to sing, to listen, to cry tears full of hope.

I read the bible, getting a lot from the Psalms whilst H was away. I spoke to God, I prayed for H. I prayed that he was home for the birth of T, I prayed that he came home in one piece, I prayed that he came home alive. I didn't only pray for his safe return, I prayed for his comfort whilst out there, and I prayed for myself, for inner strength to get me through each day. God answered these prayers.

When H returned home from Afghanistan I continued to go to church, and H joined me occasionally. I now thanked God for H's return, I thanked God for our baby boy, and I thanked God for keeping our family knitted even though we had been through some form of hell.

In February 2010, Valentines Day, H did not feel up to coming to church. I went alone. That day I raised my hand and gave my life to Jesus. I laughed, I cried. I was happy. Since that day, we have still had our struggles, but I look up at God and I know he will help me.

Some people do not understand why I am a Christian. But let me tell you this... When the person you love the most is in a dangerous situation, you need to seek faith and hope yo' help you through the day. And when you hear my following story you will see God's work in action.

H came home from Afghanistan and I finally got to hear some situations he had found himself in. One of these "stories" was very hard to hear, as things could have turned out so differently.

H was out on patrol at night, the route they had planned had already been checked for bombs etc. All was safe fir the boys to go ahead. Whilst on route God told H he needed to stop and not take one more step forward. H stopped. All the boys were shouting at him to continue on, but he refused. He demanded light on his path before he continued. As his path was lit up, two IED's could be seen in front of H's feet. One more step and he would have been gone. Some call that coincidence, but who was that voice inside H's head telling him to stop, and not to take one more step.

If you would like to, please read Psalm 18. I read this scripture a lot whilst H was away on deployment. The Lord is my strength.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)

Monday, 1 August 2011


So I've met my best friend, I've fallen in love with him, I've had his baby and I've married him. Time to fill in a few gaps in this pavement.

Whilst H was in Afghanistan my birthday was looming. I was pregnant with T, so I could hardly drown my sorrows and forget the pain of spending a birthday without him by my side.

The anxiety whilst a loved one is away is very hard, and with a special occasion on the horizon, you crave for them more than ever. I remember it well. H had called a few days before the date of my birthday, he warned me so that I wouldn't be upset. He told me that he wouldn't talk to me now for over a week as he was very very busy and out on the ground a lot, he said he didn't have a phone in the base he was heading. My heart sank, even though he was able to wish me a wonderful birthday during that conversation, I knew it wouldn't be enough when it came to my actually birthday. I cried when I got off the phone to him. I cried because of the anxiety I felt about not talking to him for several days, and I cried because I wouldn't hear his voice on my birthday.

My birthday came, I stayed at my mothers. I was surrounded by family, but felt completely alone and separate from the world. I put on smiles whilst I opened gifts, and even though I really did appreciate my gifts, I tried so hard to look happy that I may have come across as spoilt, unappreciative, and rude. False smiles never win, they do not shine.

It was approaching evening time, my mother was taking me and J for a meal down the beach front. We could walk there from her house. I was merely 10 steps away from my mothers front door when my phone started ringing, could it be? I ran in front of J and my mum, fumbling in my bag to reach my phone in time. I looked down at it, tears filling my eyes. That satellite number flashed on my screen. "Hello?"

"Happy Birthday baby". I cried. If my mum and my son hadn't have been a few pace behind me I think I would have collapsed in excitement. He explained to me how he couldn't not call me, it had been killing him all of that day, knowing I would have been feeling alone. He told me how he'd had to run to a nearby base to use there phone, and stupidly told me that he'd been shot at whilst running there. He laughed it off. I cried.

I didn't need flowers, diamonds, lavish gifts. All I needed on that day was to hear my mans voice, and my wish was granted. H will never know what those 3 little opening words did for me that day - "Happy Birthday baby"!

My mum hugged me when I got off the phone. And we walked (I almost skipped, I felt that good) down the beach. I looked out at the sea. I asked for a moment, and I walked to the end of the pier, in my head the further out into the sea I was the closer I was to him, my man. I looked up at the skies, "Thank you" I whispered.

My birthday didn't feel so lonely after all. That one call made me forget the anxiety of the day that night. I slept well. I had heard from my best friend.

Think of a wonderful thought...