02/23/2015 06:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

I Dreamt of You

It's been nearly 3 1/2 years since you've been gone and my heart was ripped right out of my chest. I never knew how I would make it this far or what life would be like without you. I never wanted to start my own life, and I never could have imagined one without you, because life without you would be no life at all...

But I was never given that choice.

jane horton

It was already made for me. I was never able to choose the path that was already chosen for me, or the life without you I would be forced to live. As the days and months and years go by, every moment of you I grasp with all my strength, but as the pieces break away, and time slowly but painfully pushes us further away from each other, I am unable to hold on as tightly as I once could. It becomes harder to remember exactly what it's like to touch you, to see your smile, or even to hear your voice. It seems as if it was a distant memory, a dream, or another lifetime. Sometimes I wonder if it was even real.

Of course I know it was.

It was the most real thing I've ever known. Sometimes I wonder if it's just my way of coping -- not remembering every detail, or remembering what it feels to have someone love me so deeply. Even though every moment of you and I is stored in the deepest parts of my heart, I dare go back very often for fear I might get stuck there and never be able to escape. That I might not be able to breathe again if I know what I am missing or remember what it was like to have someone who loved me as deeply as you did.

Last night I dreamt of you.

You were there with me. Life was normal, we were young, happy and free. As I was waiting for you to come home the anticipation grew in my heart so much -- I felt as if it was about to explode. You walked in the front door and as the sun shone brightly on your dark, coarse hair, you looked down at me with your beautiful eyes, and hugged me. You were finally home, and finally back from war. What you didn't know was that during your missions -- I was right beside you, watching your every move. There were some close calls, some scary moments, but you made it back safely, you made it back alive. I watched you interact with your fellow battle buddies -- you laughed, you joked, and you all made it through.

When you walked through the door and hugged me it was the best feeling in the world. I had missed you so much, but I didn't understand quite why. I was happy you made it back, and you looked at me with a face that obviously you knew you would. I looked in your eyes, and nothing was different, everything was the same. My heart melted as you held me in your arms and my safety and security returned to me once again.

As you suddenly started to fade, the room shook, and in my comatose state I knew something was wrong. There was something I was missing, but I couldn't remember or figure out what it was.

Then I woke up.

And something wasn't right. It seemed I had forgotten all that is wrong with the world -- that you never came home, and you will never be in this world again. In the fog of waking up it took me a while to grasp what was happening, and that here I was, several years later, forgetting that you died.

And I couldn't breathe.

I struggled that morning, and it took every ounce of strength within me not to go back to sleep and try to find you there in my dreams. I had forgotten exactly what it was like to be with you.

The war is over and the nation has moved on, but my heart will forever be lost in Afghanistan. The days have come and times have gone, all the memories with you I wanted to make are just raindrops vanished into my ocean of you and all we were supposed to be.

As much as I want to spend every second with you and to remember what it was like to be with you, the longer time goes on, the more unbearable it seems to get. The further you seem from me, and the harder it is to go back. My face is starting to wrinkle and my youth wane, but you will always be a young, 26-year-old fearless warrior.

No matter where life may take me, no matter how long it's been since you've been gone, I promise never to forget you, as much as it hurts to remember. I'll never forget what you were to me, and what I was to you -- and what you will always be to me.

But more importantly, I will never forget what you gave.

As the nights turn into days, and my heart is raw with your memory -- it seems a lifetime ago that you were with me.

Or maybe it was just the other night when I dreamt of you.

jane horton