The answer is… suck it up and drive on

Many a time I am asked, “How do you do it?  How do you live with a man, give him your heart and bear him children, all while knowing he may leave for battle and never return?”  They even ask, “How does he do it?  How does he live with the fact that his job may take his life?”
All too often I want to say, “we don’t”.  But we do.  We just don’t think about it too often and when we do, we pull up our big girl panties, suck it up and drive on.
That is what got every soldier through every battle.  That and the knowledge that ‘someone’ was back home, praying they would return.
Recently we were blessed to see a dear friend home on R&R (rest and relaxation in the middle of deployment for those non military).  When it was time for us to go, I hugged him and whispered in his ear, “Come home safe. Come home whole.  Not in a box.  Please.”  As we walked away all I could think was I love his wife dearly, but I did not know if I would have her strength to help HER through that if it were to happen.
The point is, it happens.  So we cannot ignore it.  We don’t “not think about it”.  But we do avoid it when we can and live this life, this day, this moment.  We savor this kiss, this hug, this great marital intimacy, NOW.  We even find a way to savor the fights and frustrations.  I may complain that my beloved leaves his dirty underwear on the floor (apparently this is not an uncommon male trait), but as I do, I say a silent prayer of thanks, “he is here to do this, capable to do this, may he always be so.”
I teach my children to be proud.  I cry when the National Anthem is played, when any patriotic song comes on.  I teach them and myself to let ourselves be caught up in this moment.  Why?  Because someday, that moment may be all we have left to remind of the one we loved and lost.  But we cannot dwell on it.
I make sure our ducks are in a row. Every good Army wife is trained too.
  Do you believe me?  Our training is subtle, but constant, and as necessary as theirs.   I know where all his paperwork is.  I know whose name is on every policy and what it will deliver should that day come.  I know how to put his ribbons back in order for an open casket.  I know what to expect if that black car pulls up and a chaplain and another officer get out. I know how long I have in housing, how long it will take for the first gratuity to fly in loved ones, what protection is granted us- and what isn’t (Westboro baptist thugs) I know these things because if- that ever looming ‘if’ that is asked all the time of me- if it happens to us, I might be able to lean on that training when nothing else will work inside my broken heart and mind.  My training will be what I act upon by instinct.  And should I never need it, I am surrounded by my sisters in arms, who might need me to be there to gently guide them through in case their training just didn’t quite kick in.  That applies in reverse too, which is why I am so invested in training Army spouses (God forbid in all this, but I am being real here.)
So there you have it.  We live with it.  We don’t ignore it, we cannot.  It won’t let us.  But if we let it consume us, we will drown. What we can do is treasure here, now, and today.  We allow ourselves our moments to delve deeply into the subject, like Memorial Day, when we remember all who have given thier life before us.  We let ourselves shed a tear.  We must do that- to honor them, to remember them.  Then we must let the others take on that task the rest of the time so we can do our job- which is not just to protect and serve, but to live.
Last night a friends husband shared that his mom always tells him”Carpe Diem”. I wish that I could, I certainly try.  The thing is, we cannot ignore, we cannot dwell, and some days, we just cannot seize the freaking day.  All we can do is pull up those big girl panties…. suck it up…. and drive on.   That my friends is the answer to how we do it.

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