This week's interview was an emotional one for everyone involved. Going over the responses, I can most definitely admit that I shed a healthy amount of tears. For this interview, I talked with one of my dearest friends Kelli Rogers. Besides being one of the most supportive, loving, and inspirational friends I've ever had, Kelli has another side. She's also a supportive, loving and inspirational U.S. Army girlfriend. She's also one of the proudest I've ever met. Whether I'm receiving a text message that tells me he just called her, or I'm watching her face glow when she talks about his letters and seeing him, it's obvious that this is the real deal. This is the stuff true love is made of. I interviewed Kelli about her relationship with her boyfriend PFC Matthew Hunt (Rank E3, Infantry) because I think we can all learn something from what they share.How did you two meet and what brought you together?
KR: I met Matt back in third grade. Back in our awkward stages when he had some chub and I looked like a boy. We had always been aware of each other but never talked much. Sophomore year of high school is when I started liking him. I was walking out of Target with my friends one night and Matt was walking into it. He had just got done working out (so he looked amazing) and he started talking to us. My friend Danny and him hung out a lot; so when I told Danny I thought Matt was gorgeous he decided to text him and let him know. We would hang out on and off for three years but never dated. He was always very distant from girls trying to avoid getting hurt. (He watched friends always get screwed over by girls and was convinced relationships were nothing but drama.) Whenever a girl would screw him over he would be done with them and never look back. He would never make the jump to date anyone. (Which I'm so happy he didn't.) For some reason Matt and I always came back to each other. Throughout those three years I managed to fall in love with him so I was determined to some day be with him. Earlier this year we ran into each other at a party (after not talking for months) and our bond sparked again. After a little bit he finally committed and we started dating.
What was running through your head the day he left for basic?
KR: So much. I was finally with the the guy I loved and I had to let him go. When I woke up in his arms the morning he had to leave it felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. Non-stop tears. We were driving around so he could say his finalv "see ya laters" to his friends. We had our country music blasting and he was holding my hand singing to me. All I could think during the car ride was the amount of time till I would get another moment like that. I wasn't ready to let go of him. I was the last one he hugged before he got in the car to leave. It was hard letting him out of my arms. I was so worried what would happen to us. My phone died that day when we said 'see ya later' to him. (We refuse to say goodbye.) When I got home and my phone turned back on I had a text from him that he sent right when his car pulled away saying "Everything will be ok. I love you." That actually helped a lot. Made all my worries disappear. He has that calming effect on me. After that all I could think about was how lucky I am to have someone so amazing.
What are some things in your life that are constant reminders of him? Does it make it harder?
KR: Everything reminds me of Matt. The month before he left we spent every possible second together. If he wasnt sleeping here then I was sleeping over there. So everywhere I look there is Army stuff or a memory he and I made. I basically can connect any place or object to a memory, so he is everywhere. It makes it hard cause I miss him so much. As much as I hurt from missing him I'm still happier than I have ever been.
How often will you be able to see him?
KR: It depends. This summer I'm lucky because I got to see him in earlier June and I get to see him again in July. But after that who knows. Not much. He will be stationed and I'll be in school. With busy schedules we won't get to see each other much but we will get to talk a lot more.
How do you stay connected despite the distance?
KR: Letters and that once in a while phone call. Our letters are tell-all. Very mushy.
How do you keep the bond strong?
KR: We tell each other how we feel. A lot. Whether it is in letters, over the phone, or when we get to see each other. I never believed that "distance makes the heart grow fonder." But it is completely true. Everyday we apart we grow stronger. As Matt puts it, "everyday I love you more and more." We are strong people with a true bond.
What's one thing you've learned/taken away from your relationship?
KR: This relationship has taught me a lot. I was always the person who needed constant attention. Even if I had a boyfriend I still needed attention from other guys; my past made me a very insecure person. With Matt the only attention I get is letters, a phone call every once in awhile, and when I get to see him every few months; but that's more than enough for me. I'm secure with who I am and who I'm dating. I no longer am attention needy. I know what it's like to be in a mature relationship. When we get upset with each other (which is rare) we know not to yell. We truly sit down and talk stuff out. We can get angry but we both know how to handle it. We have both learned not to sweat the small stuff. I think the fact we trust each other 100% makes it easy not to sweat the small stuff. He has taught me not to let my emotions build up. He is actually always willing to hear out how I feel and respects my feelings. I've also come to cherish the small things. A letter, a phone call, a weekend with him, any of these things can make me the happiest person. I've learned what true love is.
From things you've learned, what is one piece of advice you'd give to couples?
KR: Appreciate the small things. Waking up with each other, having dinner together, watching a movie, just laying around talking. Most couples take things for granted. I get a five minute phone call and I'm walking around my house yelling "F*** yea 5 minutes!!!!!"
Who have been some of your biggest supporters?
KR: My family, his family, and my girls. My family adores Matt so they listen to me talk about him and give me support. Matt's family is amazing. His brother's girlfriend and I go out there often to visit and stay in their beds. (His brother is in the Army too. His girlfriend and I have become close.) They are always welcoming and encourage us to come out and visit. They are very supportive. My girls are my backbone. They are always willing to listen. I'm thankful for them.
KR: I wouldn't trade my military relationship for anything. I would much rather be with Matt and have him away than be with someone who is always here. This is a true test of our relationship. Our separate pasts have made us strong. We both have no doubt that together we can make it through anything. I'd do anything for Matt. I'll wait as long as I need to so I can be with him again. I love him more than I could ever explain. Knowing he feels the same way is the most amazing feeling in the world. Being a Army girlfriend is a title I wear proudly. His dogtags are always on.