Tonight, as I walked through my night time routine of flossing, moisturizing, and brushing my hair, I glanced over at his empty sink next to mine. I closed my eyes and tried to remember what my normal night time routine was with my husband home. I tried so hard to picture it, but I just couldn’t grasp any palpable memories. I know he’s always done with his manly grooming before I finish my 85-layers of sunshine on my pearly whites, but I can’t recall anything other than my new normal. I don’t even remember what it’s like to crawl into bed with him in it. So many changes have happened since he left-with me, with the house, and with the kids- that they’ve kind of taken over my memory space, tossing the night time routine out the window. I don’t like that. I hate that I’m trying to force myself to remember, and I hate that the memory of it all is so foreign to me. Lately, it’s been becoming increasingly difficult to hold back the tears in front of people. I want to share this burden with others, but I’d much rather choose when and with whom to do the sharing. Embarrassingly though, my emotions are starting to do their own thing and drag me along for the ride. I need to get control over this, and I’m so tempted to just stay away from people and situations that might trigger my susceptibility to allow those dang, stinkin’ tears to pour. Thankfully, I’ve had several opportunities to chat with a fellow military wife who is on the other end of the finish line. Her husband recently retired from 29 years in the Army, and she has been by his side for 26 of them. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only person in the world that’s feeling this way, but she has reminded me that I’m not alone. This week, in lieu of one of my wild and crazy shenanigans, I am honored to feature a piece of her writing about a rapid journey through her memory as she prepared her speech to honor her husband at his retirement ceremony. She’s a remarkable women, and a jewel of wisdom, carefully sculpted by the long, difficult, but oh-so-rewarding road that her career as a Soldier’s #1 sidekick has taken her down. I hope you enjoy her openness and vulnerability as much as I have.
Activity #36: Guest Writer!
Tomorrow will be the big day and the beginning of the next chapter of our life! However, it feels like more than a new chapter – probably more like a new novel! How do I sum up 26 years of my life as a military spouse into a few short words?! I don’t think it’s possible for that to even be a twitterable conversation! But my husband said I needed to figure out what I was going to say in my speech. I don’t think he is really going to give me the mic, just offering if I want to say something. I really don’t want to say anything, but just in case he makes a big deal out of it, I guess I’d better have something short, sweet, and simple to say! So, do I start with the two shortest deployments of the four that came at the absolute worst possible times – when all of my kids were 6 months to a year or the one that was supposed to be 12 months and was extended to 15 and announced by CNN? Or do I talk about how back in the olden days how hard a deployment was when I had to wait for snail mail for communication from my husband? Or how I had to wait a day to see if I had the knock on the door when I heard on the news that night that an Engr unit was hit in Somalia and how no news was good news – extremely good news! – back then? Or how about when my only dance partner for New Years Eve was my 6 month old son while everyone else had their spouse to dance with and I ended the evening early and cried myself to sleep? Or do I mention all of the times when I had to comfort my girls’ broken hearts or try to find the “cool” mom words to say to a very sad teenage son? Or how about all the driving lessons that were never completed when my husband was around and I had to use the imaginary passenger seat braking system many times over? Or what about mentioning the millions of doctors visits and the many hours spent just trying to make the appt and pick up medication? Or how I had to be the transportation solution to get to the cool skatepark in Austin? Or how I was the one running the BN FRG while they were deployed for 15 months and trying to balance all of that out with my mother/father/home responsibilities? Or should I just sum it up how I was a mother, father, maid, nutritionist, cook, taxi driver, errand runner, yard specialist, accountant, counselor, nurse, spiritual leader, laundry specialist, disciplinarian, heart mender, child psych, teacher and tutor, art instructor, Girl Scout leader and skateboarding/soccer/cheer/volleyball/swim/track sports cheerleader-mom? There are just too many memories to encapsulate it into one short speech. Maybe I’ll just say that it was a very long 3 years (that’s all it was supposed to have been!), but they were 26 years that have taught me a lot and shaped me into the person who I am today. They have taken me places that I would never have had the chance to see and have given me friends that I would never have met. There have been some good times and some bad times along the way, but I think God was just shaping us into who He wanted us to be and this journey has been our “blessings in disguise!” I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us for our next chapter – or novel – in life!
P.S. I hope my words and my experiences can help give others hope and I really hope they encourage others to not give up on their Soldier or their marriage! God can get them through it all and help them to become an encouragement to others!
Thank you, LeaAnn, for your honesty, your willingness to share with the rest of us, and for proving that prayer, love, and loyalty are the keys to a successful military marriage. Congratulations on retirement, and may God continue to guide your steps as He leads you through this next stage of life. Thank you for setting a beautiful example of how to make it through the tough days and press on toward the next goal. And most importantly, thank you for serving our country by crying yourself to sleep at night, and missing your husband, while I was being tucked safely into bed at night as a little girl. You’ve paved the way for future military wives, and I hope I can leave even just half of the legacy that trails behind you.
Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway!