The Geek & The Chic

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Two Sides of Me

It's all over the news so everybody probably knows by now that ten soldiers from Fort Drum were killed in Afghanistan when their helicoptor crashed this week due to mechanical failure. I am thankful to say my husband is fine. My husband's unit was not involved at all.

But somebody, somewhere is not fine. It's an uncomfortable irony that I can be so thankful yet know that someone is grieving. It's bittersweet to say the least. This kind of news is the kind you hope you will never have to hear. Yet the day you say "I do" at the altar is the day you accept that reality into your life.

I am an army spouse. My friends know that; readers of this blog know that. I have never made it an issue or used it as a crutch -- well, I will use my I.D. if it gets me a discount but that's another story. The point is I think I've tried to separate it out. Like there's a civllian me and a military spouse me but the line I've tried to create to keep separate the two is eroding. I am no longer sure they can be separated. Let me explain.

An army spouse lives with worry. Since I'm a worrier anyway, this wasn't too much of a stretch for me. In fact, I have a headstart on it. There's the kind of worry that comes from sending your husband off to war and the truths of that, to the horrible, faithless kind of doubt that comes from being separated for a year could bring. Like, will we be able to pick up where we left off? Will he have changed? Will I have changed? Will he still be -- and want to be, the love of my life?

Then of course there's pride. I can't think of any other profession that could instill pride in a parent or spouse than that of someone who willingly serves their country. I used to only know that it took a special kind of person to serve in the military (that will have to be another entry) but I know too now that it takes a special kind of person to be a military spouse. I was into what I (now) call intelligentsia world-- that is, if you were smart enough, you'd never have joined the military. How wrong I was. Let me state here and for the record: the soldiers I've met are extremely intelligent. Case in point: My husband is going before the promotion board next month. Before he left, I was helping him study and the things he has to learn! Holy cow! We reviewed first aid. This is more than how to give CPR, it's about how to tie a tourniquet or stop bleeding. It's about how to save someone's life in the field when the hospital is miles away. So yeah, you have to be smart. Until I met my husband, I did not know that there's actually an exam you have to take before you can enlist and if you don't score high enough, they refer you to the Air Force (that's an army joke!).

But mixed in with the pride and worry is love. In CBS' The Unit (which I will have to write about again since I've changed my mind since my original post on the topic) Molly Blane, an older and more experienced army wife is educating Kim Brown, a new wife to the unit. This is what she says to her: "You say you love him; now are you brave enough to act on it? Here you are ... pretty little girl, fine daughter, a child on the way, a man in combat. You're frightened and you want him home. This is not your own special circumstance. You know what this is? It is the history of the world." And that's it exactly. I love him so much I am brave enough to act on it. And now that I've figured it out, I wouldn't want my life any other way.

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