Veteran's Day. Today I'm thankful, as trite as it may seem with everyone suddenly saying the same things, for all those folks who are willing to live the military life. Thankful to my Dad for giving us a much better life than we would have had if my parents had decided to settle in western NY and raise their family. Thankful knowing what it cost them in terms of relationships with their own siblings/family. I'm glad that I grew up thinking it was normal for the national anthem to play before the movies at the theaters, went through that phase that many young Army brats do of saluting every flag we passed (which was sometimes a lot living on base), glad we got to see things and have experiences that sadly my children can only read about in books. Like every other kid in our high school, we brought home chunks of the Berlin wall, we practiced evacuating the school for bomb threats, you learned to wring every last bit of fun out of your friendships because once you or they moved, the letters never truly lasted long.
Thankful to my husband for being willing to make those same choices. For loving a life that means something more. For being ok with it all. And thankful for the wonderful folks we've met through his "second job."
I'll admit when I sit and think of my close friends, almost all of them are still involved in the military in some way. Which means address books in pencil, knowing that we all look at pictures and determine who was in them by which house we lived in. And now after living as someone married to someone in the military, I have one small request. The next time you hear of someone who has a spouse who is deployed, don't just assume they are doing fine. Don't just look at the outside appearance and believe it. Because we have to keep it together on the outside for the kids. I just have a hard time respecting those spouses who think it's ok to fall apart in front of their kids all the times or beg for help constantly. Seeing not just what I've dealt with in the short times my husband has been gone for training and deployments, but what other friends go through with husbands who are often gone every other year for 9 or 12 months at a time. Yes, their kids are hurting and trying to hide it. Yes, the parent at home is desperate for some time alone. So maybe, just maybe, next time just assume they need help and take that extra kid to the movies with yours. Help teach the 5-year-old how to ride his bike. Get up a bit early to shovel their driveway once. Send over a pizza for dinner or ask your husband if he can fix the broken pipes for them. Be willing to drive that extra 15 minutes to come help them if they do step outside their comfort zone and actually ask for help. Because it is often the quieter folks who aren't asking for help who need it the most because all the help is going to the ones who are being vocal about how hard it is to have their spouse gone. Just a thought.
Anyway, thanks for all you do for us. I hope that our children will still have the chance to give the same sacrifice you have in the future.