Last week, I read through the journal I kept during deployment. Right after The Warrior left, I went to Staples and bought a pink camouflage journal, in which I would write about my thoughts, feelings, conversations with him, things I wanted to tell him the next time we talked, care package lists, completed customs forms, and dates that packages and letters were mailed. I even ended up keeping track of every time we talked. (I know, that’s a little over-the-top Type A personality.)
As I read, it hit me in a new way just how hard those months were. Sure, it definitely wasn’t easy when it was happening, but apparently I was able to trick myself into thinking I was pretty strong. I wanted to be tough. (A co-worker told me, “If you ever had a bad day, I never knew it.” Whew.) The truth is, it was hard and it was crappy some days, and I totally knew that while it was happening…but perhaps hindsight has given me a new perspective. For example, I understand now why over the course of a month, I suddenly developed migraines, severe back pain, and came down with a fever twice (the second time it was the full-blown flu, which knocked me down for almost a week). Hello! Duh! I was not getting enough sleep due to extra working, but that was also the month following “the accident.” I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that The Warrior could’ve easily died or been seriously wounded that day, and getting a text from his brother about it was the scariest message I’ve ever received. I will never forget the awful feeling I had reading and re-reading, “He’s going to [base hospital] for TBI testing tomorrow” and not knowing exactly what the future held.
But the very next day, I was given unexpected reassurance that whatever the future held, everything would be okay. I was riding to work on the train and reading my daily devotional from Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives by Jocelyn Green. This by itself helped me to start my days on the right foot, but God knew that the morning after “the accident” I needed some extra assistance. After reading a few entries, all written by Christian military wives, I put it away and pulled out pen and paper to write a letter to The Warrior. To my great surprise, the man sitting across from me leaned over and said, “Ma’am, please tell your husband thank you for his service. I will pray for him.”
I smiled and simply said, “Thank you so much,” but inside I was crying, “Are you serious?? You have NO idea how much that means to me especially at this moment.” I had to blink back tears as I wrote my letter. As if those two sentences weren’t enough to put me over the top with gratefulness, the man encouraged me again: as he waited to get off at his stop, he tapped me on the arm and said, “I hope that you are both blessed today. I will be praying. God bless you both.” All I could humbly say was, “Thank you, I really appreciate that. It means a lot.” And then he was gone.
As I wrote in my journal that night, Was that a sign from God that He is watching over us even when we’re not aware? Probably so. I was blown away by His Providence.
Earlier that evening, I went to a political rally and ran into a friend, the wife of an elected official who was career military. I told her what had happened to The Warrior and she got the most concerned look in her eyes, one that only a seasoned military wife could have. She gave me a comforting hug as I said, “It was really scary” and she responded, “I know, of course it was!” That was the best thing she could have told me. To have someone who knows the pain of not knowing what is going on was priceless. She didn’t try to “fix it,” she didn’t give advice…she just knew.
And now that The Warrior is back, the support and appreciation that people have shown for him has just been incredible and overwhelming in the best way. Just this week, I started going to a new chiropractor that is close to where I work. On the new patient forms, there were a bunch of questions, and one of them was, “Do you have stress? Yes or No.” I circled “Yes” and wrote that my fiancé was just in Afghanistan as the explanation. During the appointment, the doctor asked about The Warrior and what he does, and I love it when people are curious about him. But I was flabbergasted when, at the end of the visit, he said, “In appreciation of your fiancé’s service, I’d like to give you a discount on this initial visit.” That didn’t make my day – that made my week! And it wasn’t saving money that lifted me up, obsessed as I am with pinching pennies. It was the appreciation and support the doctor showed by his kind gesture. You can’t put a price tag on that.
Military families sacrifice a lot, and yes, there are times it’s easy to wonder if the public remembers they even exist. Many talking heads and goober politicians care just about being PC, not about what is truly best for the country and our fighting forces. But especially over the past couple of months, since coming home in one piece, The Warrior has experienced genuine respect, support, and appreciation from people who truly, truly care. Most may not understand, but that doesn’t matter. They have given to him (and to me) out of the kindness of their hearts, and I assure you that will NEVER be forgotten. Texas, you have remembered your heroes and that alone makes you the greatest state in the union. When we PCS, it will be a sad day: I will miss you very much.