I sat on the bottom step last evening, light drifting dimly and children in bed, stifling my giggles. Justine, eyes flashing, a true friend, spouted the military frustrations we both feel in a way that made the pressure lift off of my chest. We’re not alone in this, I remembered. We rarely are truly alone.
There’s this thing called a “Road to War” that can sound a bit romantic to me, even from the lips of hardened army men. This is only because I get all Gone With the Wind in my mind and picture Ashley Wilkes trudging off to battle, or the Union soldiers dragging their knapsacks South. But really the Road to War is a soldier’s path toward deployment, with all the training, preparation and broken hearts to boot. It is months and months of gearing up, of bonding with one’s Company, of focusing on the mission, and of severing the home ties one by one by a thousand painful ones.
Things are attended to: powers of attorney, doctor appointments, car repairs, a soldier’s last will. The soldiers themselves take long courses about horrific realities, like Combat First Aid or IED Identification, and the spouses take long courses in other realities, realities like caring for children alone. The days extend and then blend and a weariness begins to tie the days all together, and we practice what it means to be One in the midst of tension and unknowns. We make decisions: stay or go? Close up the house or keep it open? Visit family or make it alone? We keep track of our hearts: are we arguing because we’re frightened? Are we avoiding because we’re sad? Are we closing each other out or letting the other in? We keep our eyes on the children.
Some days I’m sure I am forgotten. Other days I remember I’m his for good. Somedays I dread the future. Other days I brim over with joyful hope. There’s enough of the angsty artist in me to appreciate the drama, and enough of the Christian in me to believe all things work together for good.
I’d rather the next year were over, but I’m still keen for the task at hand. I truly believe that in time the harvest will return to us a hundredfold.