July 10, 2006

Hard days, good friends

Some days are harder than others, and Saturday was really hard for me. It made me realize how much I depend on other military spouses ... but let me start from the beginning.

On Friday the command information officer (a.k.a my boss) came into my office and asked if I could cover a welcome home ceremony Saturday. I told her my father and sister were coming into town, but if I could take them then I could do it.
Moments later I began to wonder if I could do it. It would require me to watch as other families welcomed home their weary warriors amid balloons, flags, and signs expressing their joy while my husband is still gone. But it’s my job and I can’t turn down assignments because they may affect me personally.

So Saturday afternoon, after a morning of watching my father turn into a 3-year-old as he climbed all over the military vehicles at Warrior Memorial Park and 1/509th barracks area, we left for Warrior brigade Gym where the families were waiting for the unit’s arrival.

Once there, I set about photographing the kids with signs, them dancing about, and the rest of the anxious families. In the background played all the sad songs, “American Soldier,” “Come Home Soon,” etc. with a photo slide show playing on the wall, but as long as I didn’t think about it I was fine. I took a few minutes to talk to a friend, Charlotte, who works in the community and whose husband is with mine. She didn’t look too sad so I figured that it’s wouldn’t be as bad as I thought.

Then the announcement that the Soldiers had arrived led to a earth-moving cheer as the families waited for them to enter the gym. Chills went up my spine and tears welled in my eyes as I struggled to hold it together and focus my camera on the door. I did good for a few minutes, I took pictures of the first Soldiers coming through the door and the formation as the brigade commander welcomed them home. Then as I walked back to the corner, the tears began to fall and I couldn’t stop them.

I saw Charlotte out of the corner of my eye and went to her. I broke down and cried on her shoulder, sad that it wasn’t my husband and guilty that I was angry at those who were coming home .

We comforted each other for a few minutes and I was able to gain my composure. “Are you o.k. to take pictures?” she asked. “Yes,” I said, “I just didn’t know it would be this hard.”

“This will be us soon,” she replied, trying to make it sound better but I knew she wanter her husband home as much as I did. I was glad she was there, happy to know that I wasn’t alone.

I was able to make it through the rest of the short ceremony and quickly left with my father and sister in tow.

“That was so sad,” my sister said. “I almost cried.”

“I did,” I said quietly.

“Yeah, I looked over and saw Stephanie getting teary-eyed, but we lost you in the crowd,” my dad said.

“How do you do it?” Stephanie asked.

“You just have to, you can’t fight it. It’s the choice we made as military spouses,” I said. “But it does make it better when you have a friend to lean on when you lose your strength though,” I added, making a mental note to let Charlotte how much just being there helped me. We're in this together and we'll get through it because we are military wives.

0 Tea Party Guest: