I draw a lot of inspiration from the music I hear. A beautiful melody itself can make a heart soar, but a beautiful melody coupled with meaningful lyrics can oftentimes do even more for me in the way of writing. This past week I heard a new song by the band Tenth Avenue North, called “Worn” and it’s available on YouTube:
Today, as I was doing mindless data entry (once again!) I turned on Pandora and plugged in my ear buds. Nearly every song I heard in that hour was a song I could’ve used for writing this blog post; each song I could have used in some way to write about Military Mondays. But I came back to this one because I think the lyrics can speak to each of us in unique ways, in whatever path we are walking. And as always, I look at things from a military wife-to-be’s perspective, from the perspective of a combat veteran’s fiancee.
One year ago, The Warrior was one month away from coming home, and I have to say, the last couple months seemed to be the hardest. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you know the deployment train still has several miles to go, and sometimes the engine likes to slow down its pace. There were times that I felt tired, my heart was heavy, and I didn’t always say the right thing to The Warrior. My spirit sometimes felt crushed and I just wanted him home. Did I cry sometimes? Did it feel like my prayers were wearing thin at times? Yes. It was hard.
But in those toughest moments, my thoughts went back to The Warrior. What was he going through right then? Was he on patrol? Was he dodging bullets? Was his vehicle at risk of tumbling down a mountainside again? Had the generator gone out (again) during the snowstorm? It was the possibility of him going through all these scenarios that pulled my thoughts away from myself and contemplated what truly mattered. As tough as it is to stay home and think about what is happening over there, we have to remember that our soldiers are the ones actually living it. They don’t read about firefights in a newspaper article – they ARE the article. They don’t look at the freezing or burning temperatures on Weather Bug – they LIVE in those temperatures. They don’t imagine what it’s like to always be watching their backs for insider attacks – they ARE watching their backs, constantly.
I think that those of us back home tend to get wrapped up in those feelings of longing, heartache, and loneliness – and end up focusing on that instead of what our soldiers are enduring. And so, I want to dedicate this post to all those warriors who have literally “been there, done that.” They have performed actions that most of us would never have the strength or courage to do. They have endured things that our minds cannot imagine or remotely fathom. They know the definition of being “worn.” They know what it’s like to return home and feel how things are different, how they will never be the same. They have been on the receiving end of sincere, patriotic Americans who shake their hands, say “thank you” and then keep happily living their lives – giving no thought to what the soldier actually went through or might be struggling with.
I definitely have no claim to knowing what things were truly like in Afghanistan. But I can say with sincerity that I contemplate often, in my limited capacity, what I have been told and what I have read. There were times when I ached to be in Afghanistan too, because I knew that was the only way I would be able to “get it.” But we all have our unique roles. Not all of us are meant to be warriors, so instead I listen intently when any veteran tells his story, especially The Warrior and his brother. From hearing what they have to say, I know that fighting a war is not romantic or glorious as the movies portray. Rather, it is hell. It is something that those who endured it will never forget.
It is my hope that those of us at home will be thankful for each soldier who sacrifices for us. It is my hope that we will welcome them back with open arms and hearts, and that they will deeply feel the love and thankfulness we have for each one of them.