Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Off the Base is proud to  welcome another contributor, Michelle VanHuss, also a member of the MacDill Enlisted Spouses Club.

Michelle with her mother, Grace O'Donnell.

By Michelle VanHuss 

All four of my parents (my parents divorced and each remarried) were police officers. So when I was old enough to start thinking about the kind of guy I wanted to marry, I decided that I did not want anyone that was a police officer, firefighter, or in any branch of the military. 

I never really thought about it as a child, but as an adult, especially after 9/11, I didn’t want to wonder if my future husband would be coming home. A nice, clean-cut businessman would do. So when I met a cute guy through a friend in June of 2004 that worked in “computers,” I was thrilled.

One problem; he left out the rest of the sentence. Yes, he worked on a computer but it was as part of his job as in the U.S. Air Force. Thankfully, it was a few dates in and I kind of liked the guy.

Michelle and her husband on a day trip to the Taj Mahal.

Our relationship was quickly put to the test. When we met, he was already set to take a position overseas. Our “dates” were saying good morning and good night over webcam and instant messenger and over the phone, spending a small fortune in phone cards. Six months after we met, I was able to fly out to visit him and returned home with an engagement ring.

A few months later, I was able to stay with him for two months. Our relationship grew over trips to wonders of the world, exotic foods, and learning about a culture halfway around the world. But unfortunately, it meant that my family didn’t meet my fiancé for the first time until long after we were engaged.

Michelle with husband, TSgt William VanHuss, and daughter Kelsey.

We married in April 2006 and didn’t move in together until I finally moved from Florida to Ohio to join him in June. No sooner had I put some clothes away in the closet, he was leaving for three weeks to Korea. The following spring he deployed for the first time. It wasn’t until the fall of 2008, for the first time in four years, we actually had spent a year living together or even in the same country. Thankfully, our time apart has been limited for the past few years.

It sounds backwards, but somehow, because of the distance between us, we had to really want this relationship and had to work hard at getting to know each other. But, we never had to work on staying in love. April 2011 will be our five year anniversary and the first anniversary since our daughter was born this January. Yet, we won’t be together. He’s away training right now.

He will deploy sometime next year. This time we’ll have lived through it before, we already have Skype set up and ready to go, and I’ll have a little girl to keep me company. This time he’ll have two girls to love from a distance and two girls waiting for him at the airport when he gets home.

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